Hip pain – The causes and how to treat it

Injury, repeated stress on the hip joint and arthritis are common causes of hip pain. Find out what you can do to treat yourself and when to get medical help.

If you’re experiencing hip pain then you probably want to know why and what you can do about it. The good news is, because it’s such a common condition, the causes are well known which makes getting an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment more straightforward.

While you may put off doing anything about it, it’s best not to ignore hip pain as left untreated your mobility and mental well-being can be affected over time. Early intervention and the right treatment will minimise the potential impact on every-day life.


What causes hip pain?

There’s a whole host of causes and some of them might surprise you. It ranges from too much exercise which can cause acute hip pain brought on quite quickly, to arthritis leading to longer-term hip pain.

Before we look at the types of hip pain we can summarise the main causes:

  • Overuse or repetitive stress: activities like running or excessive exercise can strain your hip joint.
  • Muscle strains: sudden movements can strain the muscles around your hip.
  • Injuries: trips and falls can cause direct trauma to the hip.
  • Infections: infections in the hip joint or surrounding tissues can be painful.
  • Inflammation: conditions like bursitis, tendinitis, or arthritis can cause inflammation and hip pain.
  • Developmental issues: hip dysplasia or other developmental abnormalities can be a cause.
  • Growing pains: often short lived but children and adolescents can experience hip pain during growth spurts.


Inflamed tendons

Inflamed tendons are a result of a condition called tendonitis. It’s often caused by over exercising and is usually short lived but can be quite painful. Your tendons become irritated or inflamed, and this causes pain and discomfort.

Pain, swelling, and tenderness in the affected area may indicate you have it and usually rest and reducing pressure on your hip will ease the symptoms. If that doesn’t work then you may need anti-inflammatories to reduce swelling and ease the pain.



It’s likely that you’ll know or have heard of people with arthritis which is the general term for inflammation of the joints. Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the most common types and are often the cause of longer-term hip pain.

Osteoarthritis – it’s the most prevalent form of arthritis and occurs when the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of your bones wears down over time.

Rheumatoid arthritis - is an autoimmune disorder where your immune system mistakenly attacks the joints.

If you’re experiencing joint pain, stiffness, swelling, and restricted mobility then these could be signs of arthritis. The exact cause can vary but your age is often a factor as well as genes, previous joint injuries, and problems with your immune system.


Trochanteric bursitis

Another slightly less common cause of pain in your hip is trochanteric bursitis. It’s a condition where the bursa which is a small fluid-filled sac located near your hip joint becomes inflamed. The bursa acts as a cushion between bones and soft tissue, reducing friction and allowing smooth movement.

It can become inflamed and cause you pain on the outside of your hip, particularly when walking or lying on the affected side. If you’re experiencing swelling or a warm feeling around your hip, it could be a sign of trochanteric bursitis.

If you experience the symptoms it’s best to avoid running, climbing the stairs frequently, or prolonged periods of standing to avoid exacerbating the condition.


Snapping hip syndrome

This condition is much less common and mostly painless but can feel quite odd because you’ll feel a snapping or popping sensation in your hip – and even an accompanying noise - as you make certain movements.

There’s two main types of Snapping Hip Syndrome:

External snapping hip: which happens when a tendon or muscle slides over projecting bone in the front of your hip joint, causing a snapping sensation.

Internal snapping hip: is similar to external snapping hip but happens when a tendon or muscle snaps over raised areas inside your hip joint.

If you’re an athlete that participates in sports that involve repetitive hip movements, such as dancing or running, you may be more susceptible to snapping hip syndrome.


How is hip pain diagnosed?

Diagnosing the type of hip pain you have will most likely involve a physical examination and a review of your medical history.

By assessing the range of motion, joint stability, and any swelling or tenderness around your hip, your doctor will be able to give you a more accurate diagnosis. You may be asked to go for imaging scans including x-rays, CT scan or an MRI scan for more detailed images of the area around your hip.

Then by studying your symptoms, including when the pain started, the nature of the pain (sharp, dull, aching), activities that trigger the pain, and any relevant medical history or recent injuries, your doctor will be able to diagnose and recommend treatment.


Treatment for hip pain

How your hip pain is treated really depends on the underlying cause and the condition you have. If you’ve over exercised or exerted yourself then simply resting and taking over the counter pain relief might be enough to reduce any pain or swelling as the effects are typically short lived – but we’d always recommend seeking advice from your doctor first.

If however, your source of hip pain is more complex, for example, arthritis, then you’ll probably have to work closely with healthcare professionals to manage the condition. Medication and physiotherapy to improve hip function, as well as making lifestyle changes aren’t uncommon to lessen the symptoms. Your doctor might even recommend surgery to repair damaged tissues, or replace worn joints to improve your mobility.

There are other softer steps you can take to reduce hip pain as well. Maintaining a healthy weight for example, can help reduce stress on the hip joints, especially in conditions like Osteoarthritis.

It's really important to consult with your doctor to determine the cause of your hip pain and follow the most appropriate treatment plan. Self-diagnosis and self-treatment may not address the underlying issue and could even make your condition worse.



You may have been given a referral for Physiotherapy, also known as physical therapy. It’s highly effective in managing and alleviating hip pain.

Your physiotherapist will help you understand more about your condition and how specific exercises and lifestyle changes can help you recover or manage your condition. You’ll probably be given exercises to do that mimic daily activities to regain strength and mobility for everyday tasks like walking or climbing stairs.

By using various techniques that can include massage, joint mobilisation which is a type of manual movement therapy, and electrical stimulation, your physiotherapist will work on addressing the root causes of hip pain, helping to prevent it recurring in the future.


Hip replacement

Sometimes a last resort, having your hip replaced - known as hip arthroplasty - is the surgical procedure that replaces your damaged or diseased hip joint with an artificial joint, called a prosthesis. If you have osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis and haven’t responded to the non-surgical treatments or you have fractured your hip, then you might need a hip replacement.

A new prosthetic hip joint is designed to replicate the natural movement and function of your previously healthy hip. And so after a period of rehabilitation and physiotherapy to regain strength, and mobility, you can look forward to reduced hip pain and a return to doing the activities you enjoyed before!


Use your cover to pay for your hip pain treatment

If you have health insurance in place and you develop hip pain you'll be able to get it looked at quickly and easily.

The first step is to get a referral from your GP, or through our Digital GP app^.  Then you can make a claim through MyAviva, over the phone, or online.

If we confirm that your claim meets the terms of your policy, we’ll pay for the treatment directly. Just be sure to tell us if you need more tests or treatment, or if your hospital or specialist changes.

You'll also be given access to our hip treatment network - a specially selected group of experts offering quality treatment for the hip - at no extra cost and with two years of aftercare included.

It’s good to have one less thing to worry about. It takes Aviva.

^ These services are non-contractual and can be withdrawn or amended by Aviva at any time.


Ready to get a quote?

If you’d like a quote, we’ll ask you to provide us with a few personal details and the date you want cover to start. We’ll also ask you about customisable cover options, like if you want anyone else added to the cover, and about any medical history you may have.

  • Get back on your A game

    Health insurance from Aviva can be more affordable than you think

    Get a quote online
  • Get a quote over the phone

    Call us free on

    0808 239 7592

    • Monday to Friday: 9:00am - 6:00pm
    • Weekends and Bank Holidays: Closed

Calls may be monitored or recorded. Calls to 0800 numbers from UK landlines and mobiles are free. Our opening hours may be different depending on which team you need to speak to. At Aviva we operate a zero-tolerance policy on abuse of any kind. Our staff/colleagues are committed to treating you with courtesy and respect and ask that you do the same.