Top of the pageCheck Your Symptoms

Topic Overview

A hip injury and pain can make it hard to
walk, go up and down stairs, squat, or sleep on the side that hurts. A clicking
or snapping feeling or sound around your hip joint (snapping hip) may
bother you or cause you to worry. But if your hip is not painful, in many cases
the click or snap is nothing to worry about. Home treatment may be all that is
needed for minor hip symptoms.

To better understand hip injuries,
it may be helpful to know how the
hip works. It is the largest ball-and-socket joint in
the body. The thighbone (femur) fits tightly into a cup-shaped socket
(acetabulum) in the pelvis. The hip joint is tighter and more stable than the
shoulder joint but it does not move as freely. The hip joint is held together
by muscles in the buttock, groin, and spine; tendons; ligaments; and a joint
capsule. Several fluid-filled sacs (bursae) cushion and lubricate the hip joint
and let the tendons and muscles glide and move smoothly. The largest nerve in
the body (sciatic nerve) passes through the pelvis into the leg.

Hip injuries

Injuries are a common cause of hip
problems. You may not remember a specific injury, especially if your symptoms
began slowly or during everyday activities.

  • Overuse injuries occur from repeating the same
    activity. The repeated activity, such as running or bicycling long distances,
    stresses the hip joint and may cause irritation and inflammation. Examples of
    overuse injuries include irritation of the large sac (bursae) that cushions the
    bones of the hip joint (trochanteric bursitis), irritation of the tendons in
    the hip (tendinitis),
    muscle strain, and hairline cracks (stress fracture) in the neck of the thighbone
    (femur).
  • A sudden (acute) injury may occur from a fall on the hip,
    a direct blow to the hip or knee, or abnormal twisting or bending of the leg. Examples of acute injuries that may cause hip pain include:

Treatment for a hip injury depends on the location, type,
and severity of the injury as well as your age, general health, and activities
(such as work, sports, hobbies). Treatment may include first aid measures;
application of a brace, cast, harness, or traction; physical therapy;
medicines; or surgery.

Check your symptoms to
decide if and when you should see a doctor.

Check Your Symptoms

Do you have a hip injury?
Yes
Hip injury
No
Hip injury
How old are you?
Less than 12 years
Less than 12 years
12 years or older
12 years or older
Are you male or female?
Male
Male
Female
Female
Have you had hip surgery in the past month?
If a cast, splint, or brace is causing the problem, follow the instructions you got about how to loosen it.
Yes
Hip surgery in the past month
No
Hip surgery in the past month
Has it been more than a month since the hip injury?
Yes
Hip injury over a month ago
No
Hip injury over a month ago
Have you had a major trauma in the past 2 to 3 hours?
Yes
Major trauma in past 2 to 3 hours
No
Major trauma in past 2 to 3 hours
Do you have severe bleeding that has not slowed down with direct pressure?
Yes
Severe bleeding
No
Severe bleeding
Do you have symptoms of shock?
Yes
Symptoms of shock
No
Symptoms of shock
Are you having trouble moving your hip or leg?
Yes
Difficulty moving hip or leg
No
Difficulty moving hip or leg
Can you move your hip and leg at all?
Yes
Able to move hip and leg
No
Unable to move hip and leg
Have you had trouble moving the area for more than 2 days?
Yes
Difficulty moving hip for more than 2 days
No
Difficulty moving hip for more than 2 days
Do you have any pain in your hip?
Yes
Hip pain
No
Hip pain
How bad is the pain on a scale of 0 to 10, if 0 is no pain and 10 is the worst pain you can imagine?
8 to 10: Severe pain
Severe pain
5 to 7: Moderate pain
Moderate pain
1 to 4: Mild pain
Mild pain
Has the pain:
Gotten worse?
Pain is getting worse
Stayed about the same (not better or worse)?
Pain is unchanged
Gotten better?
Pain is getting better
Has the pain lasted for more than 2 days?
Yes
Pain for more than 2 days
No
Pain for more than 2 days
Is the leg blue, very pale, or cold and different from the other leg?
If the leg is in a cast, splint, or brace, follow the instructions you got about how to loosen it.
Yes
Leg is blue, very pale, or cold and different from other leg
No
Leg is blue, very pale, or cold and different from other leg
Is there any swelling or bruising?
Yes
Swelling or bruising
No
Swelling or bruising
Did you have swelling or bruising within 30 minutes of the injury?
Yes
Swelling or bruising within 30 minutes of injury
No
Swelling or bruising within 30 minutes of injury
Has swelling lasted for more than 2 days?
Yes
Swelling for more than 2 days
No
Swelling for more than 2 days
Have you had numbness, tingling, or weakness in your hip or leg that has lasted more than an hour?
Weakness is being unable to use the hip or leg normally no matter how hard you try. Pain or swelling may make it hard to move, but that is not the same as weakness.
Yes
Numbness, tingling, or weakness for more than 1 hour
No
Numbness, tingling, or weakness for more than 1 hour
Do you think that the injury may have been caused by abuse?
Yes
Injury may have been caused by abuse
No
Injury may have been caused by abuse
Are there any symptoms of infection?
Yes
Symptoms of infection
No
Symptoms of infection
Do you think the problem may be causing a fever?
Some bone and joint problems can cause a fever.
Yes
Possible fever
No
Possible fever
Are there red streaks leading away from the area or pus draining from it?
Yes
Red streaks or pus
No
Red streaks or pus
Do you have diabetes, a weakened immune system, peripheral arterial disease, or any surgical hardware in the area?
“Hardware” includes things like artificial joints, plates or screws, catheters, and medicine pumps.
Yes
Diabetes, immune problems, peripheral arterial disease, or surgical hardware in affected area
No
Diabetes, immune problems, peripheral arterial disease, or surgical hardware in affected area
Have you had symptoms for more than a week?
Yes
Symptoms for more than a week
No
Symptoms for more than a week

Many things can affect how your body responds to a symptom and what kind
of care you may need. These include:

  • Your age. Babies and older
    adults tend to get sicker quicker.
  • Your overall health. If you have a condition such as diabetes, HIV, cancer, or heart
    disease, you may need to pay closer attention to certain symptoms and seek care
    sooner.
  • Medicines you take. Certain
    medicines, herbal remedies, and supplements can cause symptoms or make them
    worse.
  • Recent health events, such as surgery
    or injury. These kinds of events can cause symptoms afterwards or make them
    more serious.
  • Your health habits and lifestyle, such as eating and exercise habits, smoking, alcohol or drug
    use, sexual history, and travel.

Try Home Treatment

You have answered all the questions. Based on your answers, you may be
able to take care of this problem at home.

  • Try home treatment to relieve the
    symptoms.
  • Call your doctor if symptoms get worse or you have any
    concerns (for example, if symptoms are not getting better as you would expect).
    You may need care sooner.

Major trauma is any event that can
cause very serious injury, such as:

  • A fall from more than
    10 ft (3.1 m) [more than
    5 ft (1.5 m) for children under
    2 years and adults over 65].
  • A car crash in which any vehicle
    involved was going more than
    20 miles (32 km) per
    hour.
  • Any event that causes severe bleeding that you cannot
    control.
  • Any event forceful enough to badly break a large bone (like an arm bone or leg bone).

Pain in adults and older children

  • Severe pain (8 to 10): The pain
    is so bad that you can’t stand it for more than a few hours, can’t sleep, and
    can’t do anything else except focus on the pain.
  • Moderate pain (5 to 7): The pain is bad enough to disrupt your
    normal activities and your sleep, but you can tolerate it for hours or days.
    Moderate can also mean pain that comes and goes even if it’s severe when it’s
    there.
  • Mild pain (1 to 4): You notice the pain,
    but it is not bad enough to disrupt your sleep or activities.

Symptoms of infection may
include:

  • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness in or
    around the area.
  • Red streaks leading from the area.
  • Pus draining from the area.
  • A fever.

Certain health conditions and medicines weaken the immune system’s ability to fight off infection and
illness. Some examples in adults are:

  • Diseases such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease,
    and HIV/AIDS.
  • Long-term alcohol and drug
    problems.
  • Steroid medicines, which may be used to treat a variety
    of conditions.
  • Chemotherapy and radiation therapy for
    cancer.
  • Other medicines used to treat autoimmune
    disease.
  • Medicines taken after organ transplant.
  • Not
    having a spleen.

When an area turns blue, very pale, or cold, it can mean that there has been a sudden change in the blood
supply to the area. This can be serious.

There are other reasons
for color and temperature changes. Bruises often look blue. A limb may turn
blue or pale if you leave it in one position for too long, but its normal color
returns after you move it. What you are looking for is a change in how the area
looks (it turns blue or pale) and feels (it becomes cold to the touch), and
this change does not go away.

Shock is a life-threatening condition that may quickly occur
after a sudden illness or injury.

Symptoms of shock (most of which will be present) include:

  • Passing out (losing consciousness).
  • Feeling very dizzy or
    lightheaded, like you may pass out.
  • Feeling very weak or having
    trouble standing.
  • Not feeling alert or able to think clearly. You
    may be confused, restless, fearful, or unable to respond to questions.

With severe bleeding, any of these may
be true:

  • Blood is pumping from the wound.
  • The
    bleeding does not stop or slow down with pressure.
  • Blood is quickly soaking through bandage after bandage.

With moderate bleeding, any of these may
be true:

  • The bleeding slows or stops with pressure but
    starts again if you remove the pressure.
  • The blood may soak through
    a few bandages, but it is not fast or out of control.

With mild bleeding, any of these may be
true:

  • The bleeding stops on its own or with
    pressure.
  • The bleeding stops or slows to an ooze or trickle after
    15 minutes of pressure. It may ooze or trickle for up to 45 minutes.

Seek Care Today

Based on your answers, you may need care soon. The
problem probably will not get better without medical care.

  • Call your doctor today to discuss the symptoms
    and arrange for care.
  • If you cannot reach your doctor or you don’t
    have one, seek care today.
  • If it is evening, watch the symptoms and
    seek care in the morning.
  • If the symptoms get worse, seek care
    sooner.

Call 911 Now

Based on your answers, you need
emergency care.

Call 911 or other emergency services now.

Make an Appointment

Based on your answers, the problem may not improve without medical
care.

  • Make an appointment to see your doctor in the
    next 1 to 2 weeks.
  • If appropriate, try home treatment while you
    are waiting for the appointment.
  • If symptoms get worse or you have
    any concerns, call your doctor. You may need care sooner.

Seek Care Now

Based on your answers, you may need care right away. The problem is likely to get worse without medical care.

  • Call your doctor now to discuss the symptoms and
    arrange for care.
  • If you cannot reach your doctor or you don’t have
    one, seek care in the next hour.
  • You do not need to call an
    ambulance unless:

    • You cannot travel safely either by driving
      yourself or by having someone else drive you.
    • You are in an area
      where heavy traffic or other problems may slow you down.

Call 911 Now

Based on your answers, you need
emergency care.

Call 911 or other emergency services now.

Put direct, steady pressure on the
wound until help arrives. Keep the area raised if you can.

Postoperative Problems
Hip Injuries, Age 11 and Younger
Hip Problems, Age 12 and Older

Home Treatment

Home treatment may help relieve hip
pain, swelling, and stiffness.

  • Rest. Try to rest and protect an injured or sore
    area. Stop, change, or take a break from any activity that may be causing your
    pain or soreness.
  • Sleep on your uninjured hip
    with a pillow between your knees, or sleep on your back with pillows beneath
    your knees.
  • Gently massage or rub your hip to relieve pain and help
    blood flow.
  • For the first 1 to 2 days after an injury, do not do
    things that might increase swelling, such as taking hot showers or use hot tubs,
    hot packs, or alcohol beverages.
  • Do not use aspirin for the first
    24 hours after an injury. Aspirin may cause more bruising under the skin.
  • After 2 to 3 days, if you
    do not have swelling or the swelling is gone, you can put
    heat on the area. Moist heat with a hot
    water bottle, warm towel, or a heating pad set on low may feel good on your
    hip. You can carefully begin normal activities and gentle stretching.

Medicine you can buy without a prescription
Try a nonprescription
medicine to help treat your fever or pain:
Safety tips
Be sure to follow these
safety tips when you use a nonprescription medicine:
  • Carefully read and follow all directions
    on the medicine bottle and box.
  • Do not take more than the
    recommended dose.
  • Do not take a medicine if you have had an
    allergic reaction to it in the past.
  • If
    you have been told to avoid a medicine, call your doctor before you take
    it.
  • If you are or could be pregnant, do not take any medicine other
    than acetaminophen unless your doctor has told you to.
  • Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than age 20 unless your doctor tells you to.

Do not smoke. Smoking may delay healing because it interferes
with blood supply and tissue healing. For more information, see the topic
Quitting Smoking.

Cast care tips

If you have a cast, see
cast care tips.

Symptoms to watch for during home treatment

Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home
treatment:

  • Pain or swelling develops.
  • Signs of infection develop.
  • Numbness,
    tingling, or weakness develops.
  • Pale, white, blue, or cold skin
    develops.
  • Symptoms do not get better with home
    treatment.
  • Symptoms become more severe or more frequent.

Prevention

The following tips may prevent hip
injuries.

Keep bones strong

  • Eat foods rich in calcium, like yogurt, cheese, milk, and dark green vegetables. Eat foods rich in vitamin D, like eggs, fatty fish, cereal, and fortified milk.
  • Exercise and stay active. It is best to do weight-bearing
    exercise, such as walking, jogging, stair climbing, dancing, or lifting
    weights, for 2½ hours a week. One way to do this is to be active 30 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week. In addition to weight-bearing exercise, experts recommend that you do resistance exercises at least 2 days a week. Talk to your doctor about an exercise
    program that is right for you. Begin slowly, especially if you have not been
    active. For more information, see the topic
    Fitness.
  • Don’t drink more than 2 alcohol
    drinks a day if you are a man, or 1 alcohol drink a day if you are a woman.
    People who drink more than this may have a higher chance for developing
    osteoporosis. Alcohol use also increases your chance
    of falling and breaking a bone.
  • Stop or do not begin smoking.
    Smoking also increases your chance for developing osteoporosis. It also
    interferes with blood supply and healing. For more information, see the topic
    Quitting Smoking.

Prevent hip injuries

  • Wear your seat belt in a car.
  • Do
    not carry objects that are too heavy.
  • Use a step stool. Do not
    stand on chairs or other unsteady objects.
  • Wear protective gear
    during sports or recreational activities, such as roller-skating or soccer.
    Supportive splints, such as wrist guards, may lower your chance for
    injury.
  • Do not do activities that make one side of the pelvis
    higher than the other, such as running in only one direction on a track or
    working sideways on a slope. Keep your hips level.

Reduce falls

Hip injuries can happen from falls. Do all you can to prevent falls.

  • Remove any obstacles from your walking path and
    fix anything in your house that may cause you to fall. Household hazards that
    can cause falls include slippery floors, poor lighting, cluttered walkways,
    throw rugs, raised doorway thresholds, and electrical cords.
  • Keep
    furniture or other items that have sharp edges away from normal walking
    pathways in your house.
  • Use nonskid floor wax, and wipe up spills
    immediately.
  • Have your vision and hearing checked regularly. If you
    have poor vision or hearing, you may have a harder time keeping your
    balance.
  • Know the side effects of any medicines you are taking. Ask
    your doctor or pharmacist whether the medicines you are taking can
    change your balance. For example, sleeping pills or sedatives can change your
    balance.
  • Check the condition of your shoes on a regular basis. Wear
    low-heeled shoes that fit well and give your feet good
    support.
  • Have a lot of lights in your house, especially on
    stairways, porches, and outside walkways. Use night-lights in areas such as
    hallways and bathrooms. Add extra light switches or use remote switches, such
    as switches that go on or off when you clap your hands, to make it easier to
    turn lights on if you have to get up during the night.
  • Have sturdy
    handrails on stairways.
  • Put grab bars and nonskid mats inside and
    outside your shower or tub and near the toilet and sinks. Use shower chairs and
    bath benches.
  • Be safe when you go outdoors. Use a cane or walker if
    you need to. If you live in
    an area that gets snow and ice in the winter, have a family member or friend sprinkle salt or sand on
    slippery steps and sidewalks.

If you live alone, you may want to get an emergency contact
bracelet or necklace. If you fall and can’t get to the phone, you can press
the button on your bracelet or necklace. This calls
911 or an emergency number for you so that
help can be sent.

Exercises to stretch and strengthen your hip and back area

Warm up and stretch before exercising to prevent muscle strains and
injury.

Preparing For Your Appointment

To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.

You can help your
doctor diagnose and treat your condition by being prepared to
answer the following questions:

  • What are your main symptoms? How long have you
    had your symptoms?
  • How and when did an injury occur?
  • Have you had any injuries in the past to the same area? Do you
    have any continuing problems because of the previous injury?
  • Do you
    have hip pain when you walk? How far can you walk without discomfort? Does the
    pain get better or worse as you continue to walk?
  • What activities
    make your symptoms better or worse?
  • What sports activities are you
    involved in? Have you recently started a new activity?
  • Do you think
    that activities related to your job or hobbies caused your
    symptoms?
  • What home treatment measures have you tried? Did they
    help?
  • What nonprescription medicines have you tried? Did they help?
  • What prescription and nonprescription medicines do you
    take?
  • Do you have any
    health risks that may increase the seriousness of your
    symptoms?

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP – Emergency Medicine
Adam Husney, MD – Family Medicine

Current as ofMarch 20, 2017