7 Common Causes of Hip Pain

Who has hip pain — and why — can be surprising

Hip pain is all too common, with everyone from recent college graduates to grandparents at risk.
But why you are suffering can be difficult to pinpoint. To get the proper diagnosis, the best clues are the type of pain and where it is located.

Here, Shane Nho, MD, MS, a sports medicine specialist at Rush University Medical Center and director of the Hip Preservation Center, looks at seven common causes of hip pain — and some might surprise you.

1. Core muscle injury (a.k.a. sports hernia or athletic pubalgia).

If you feel pain in your groin area, it might be a core muscle injury, such as a strain or tear of muscles or other soft tissues in the lower abdomen.

This injury is quite common in weekend warriors — especially those who play sports involving a lot of extreme twisting and turning, but who aren’t as athletically conditioned as they need to be.

Treatment: Resting the affected muscles for several weeks can help. You may also require surgery to repair the torn muscle by a general surgeon.

2. Bursitis.

If it hurts on the outside of your hip, thigh and/or buttocks, you can probably blame bursitis — the inflammation of the pillow-like fluid sacs that keep tendons and muscles from rubbing directly against bone.

“Though walking for a long time or climbing stairs can make it worse, bursitis usually is not associated with activity-related pain. It just hurts day to day,” Nho says. “Even lying on that side when you sleep can make it hurt.”

Bursitis becomes more common as we age, and is especially prevalent in people over 60.

Treatment: At home, try rest, putting ice compresses on the area and taking anti-inflammatory and pain medications. Sometimes, your doctor may give you a cortisone injection to reduce inflammation.

3. Tendonitis.

If you’re active, and your hip flexor (the group of muscles that lets you bring your knee and leg toward your body) or groin are tender when you touch or move them, you may have tendonitis.

“Straining or over-using tendons — the cords that attach the muscle to the bone — creates repeated minor injuries that eventually lead to muscular imbalances in the hip,” Nho explains. “People who do very specific activities over and over, like kicking a soccer ball, can be at risk for this severe pain.”

Treatment: Treatment options are similar to bursitis.

4. Labral tears.

The labrum is the ring of cartilage that surrounds the hip socket and ensures the ball of the thighbone stays in place. When it tears — often in athletes and ballerinas — it causes pain in the hip or groin and limits movement, creating a sensation that the hip is locking, catching or clicking.

“The pain tends not to go away,” Nho says. This injury is common in people with anatomic abnormalities that make the hip too shallow or hips with impingement (see below), or in those who previously injured their hips.

Treatment: A type of minimally invasive surgery is used to repair the labrum and shave down the misshaped bone. This procedure corrects the hip’s alignment, relieving pain and protecting the joint.

5. Gynecological or pelvic floor issues.

The pain you feel in your hip could actually be coming from elsewhere in your pelvis. “The pelvis contains many systems, and everything is jammed in there, close together. Sometimes, there can be confusion about where the pain is coming from,” Nho says.

If the pain is limited to your groin and coincides with ovulation or your period, the cause could be endometriosis or fibroids rather than a problem with the hip. Urological and gastrointestinal issues, such as gastroenteritis and prostate cancer, could also cause pain that’s easily mistaken for a hip injury.

Treatment: Visit your primary care physician for a complete workup. Depending on the diagnosis, they may refer you to another specialist, such as a gynecologist or gastroenterologist, for treatment.

6. Hip impingement.

Nho treats hip pain in many younger people who do high-intensity athletics, such as Tough Mudder races, CrossFit or barre classes.

“These intense activities can actually cause the hip bones to fuse in an abnormal shape and limit movement,” Nho says. This is called hip impingement, or femoral acetabular impingement (FAI). Not only does it hurt, but it also increases the risk of premature osteoarthritis.

Treatment: Physical therapy can help and is often the first line of treatment. Ultimately, surgery to move the hipbones to unlock them might be required.

7. Osteoarthritis.

This is a very common cause of a daily, dull pain in the hip. With osteoarthritis, your joints become stiff and swollen due to inflammation and breakdown of cartilage, causing pain and deformity.

Recent studies show that osteoarthritis results when the hip bones are not formed perfectly, making them not fit together neatly. This eventually causes them to rub against each other, Nho says.

Being highly active — running marathons or playing high-impact sports like basketball — can increase your chances of getting osteoarthritis. Add aging, obesity or traumatic injury and the pain can become disabling.

Treatment: Along with rest, ice, steroids and over-the-counter pain and anti-inflammatory medications, more aggressive treatments include stem cell therapy and surgery, from hip resurfacing to total hip replacement.

Keep your hips healthy

To help prevent hip pain, Nho suggests the following:

  • Control your weight
  • Stretch or do yoga regularly
  • Strengthen your core
  • Get annual check-ups
  • Exercise regularly, but make sure to do exercises that are appropriate for your age and physical condition

If your hip pain is intense or long lasting, visit your primary care physician. You might then be referred to a specialist for a closer look.

Rush University Medical Center

One Run May Add 7 Hours to Your Life, Study Says

Getting fit for Summer

Running is a simple and efficient way to exercise: all you need is a pair of shoes. It’s been shown to lower a person’s risk for heart disease and cancer, possibly by regulating weight and blood pressure. Now a recent study, published in the journal Progress in Cardiovascular Disease last month, reports that people who run tend to live about three years longer than those who don’t.

The researchers, who have studied the benefits of running in the past, decided to look at available research and investigate whether other forms of exercise like walking and biking provide the same benefits, or if runners have a special advantage.

The study’s authors found that while other types of exercise like walking and cycling were linked to a longer lifespan, it wasn’t to the same degree as running. The researchers calculated that a one-hour run may translate to an additional seven hours added to a person’s life. The benefits capped out at about three years, and the researchers found that the improvements in life expectancy leveled out at about four hours of running per week. More running wasn’t found to be significantly worse for a person, but the researchers say there are no further apparent longevity benefits.

However, the researchers only found an associational relationship between running and longevity. Their data showed that people who run tend to live longer lives, but not that running specifically increases a person’s lifespan. Runners tend to have other healthy lifestyle behaviors like maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking and only drinking low-to-moderate amounts of alcohol, the authors note. Still, the findings suggest running is an especially effective form of exercise.

The study also found that runners who also do other types of physical activity have the same lower risk of early death, though combining running with other exercise is “the best choice,” the researchers write. (Federal guidelines recommend both aerobic exercise, like running, and strength training for optimal health.) They also acknowledge that it’s not yet clear how much running is safe, or if a person can run too much.

“Running may have the most public health benefits, but is not the best exercise for everyone since orthopedic or other medical conditions can restrict its use by many individuals,” the authors concluded.

By Alexandra Sifferlin for Time Health

Why Running Is Such Perfect Cardio

Female athlete running on track, low section, focus on shadow

There was once a time, just a few decades ago, when few people ran to stay in shape. Today, running is almost synonymous with exercise. If your goal is to be fit and healthy, you’re either a runner or someone who’s planning to start running really soon (promise).

Running has become so popular, in part, because a mountain of evidence suggests it’s great for a long, disease-free life.

One 2014 study found that running is linked to a 45% drop in risk of death due to cardiovascular disease. “Runners on average lived three years longer compared to non-runners,” says study author D.C. Lee, an assistant professor of kinesiology at Iowa State University. Those mortality benefits held fairly steady regardless of how fast, how long or how often a person ran.

Lee and his colleagues just published a follow-up report showing even more impressive benefits. Running for about two hours each week was linked to three extra years of life. He and his coauthors also found that running outperforms walking, cycling and some other forms of aerobic exercise when it comes to lengthening life.

Research has also linked running to lower rates of stroke, cancer and metabolic diseases like diabetes, as well as better bone strength. “Weight-bearing exercises like running promote greater bone mineral density,” says Arthur Weltman, a professor and chair of kinesiology at the University of Virginia. Especially as you age and your bones start to weaken, running can help keep the bones of your legs healthy.

Muscles also get stronger with running. “One of the tenets of training is that when you do damage to muscle tissue, it’s stronger after repair,” Weltman says. Your heart is a muscle. And while hard running can initially result in increased levels of proteins associated with heart damage, these levels quickly return to normal, and the heart bounces back stronger than before, he explains.

But in order for that strengthening to occur, you have to give your muscles time to recover. “Depending on your fitness and how hard you go, running can be vigorous, high-intensity exercise,” Weltman says. “If you’re running hard and pushing yourself every day, you have the potential to over-train and do some damage.”

Overtraining is most likely to cause joint-related issues: lower-body aches or strains that may sideline a runner for a few days or weeks. If you always seem to be injured, that’s a good indication you’re not giving yourself enough rest, Weltman says. Running is high-impact exercise, so it may cause pain or injury in people with obesity or those with joint problems—particularly if they don’t allow enough time for recovery between bouts.

But overtraining may lead to more than simple pain or sprains, some recent scientific literature suggests. Research from James O’Keefe, a cardiologist with the University of Missouri-Kansas City, found that doing excessive endurance exercise—especially during middle-age and beyond—could theoretically lead to unhealthy structural changes in the chambers of the heart. His research pegged “too much” somewhere beyond an hour per day of vigorous exercise. More isn’t always better when it comes to running and endurance training.

It’s also important to realize that what’s “vigorous” for one runner is not going to be vigorous for another. “There’s a lot of person-to-person variation that depends on fitness level,” Weltman explains. For older people or those who haven’t broken a sweat in a while, brisk walking might constitute a tough workout.

“I think the best way to exercise and avoid risk of injury revolves around perception of effort, rather than time or duration,” he says. “At least twice a week, you want to exercise at an intensity that you perceive as hard.” At most, you want to alternate between hard and easy days “so your body has 48 hours to recover.”

But what if you’re concerned about running too little, not too much? Even a little running has been shown to pay huge dividends. In Lee’s study, people who ran as little as 30 to 59 minutes a week—just five to 10 minutes a day—lowered their risk of cardiovascular death by 58% compared to non-runners. Even in small doses, running rocks.

By Markham Heid for Time Health

The Growth of Platform Tennis; Review of the NBA Research Committee

Episode 17.05 with Hosts Steve Kashul and Dr. Brian Cole. Broadcasting on ESPN Chicago 1000 WMVP-AM Radio, Saturdays from 8:30 to 9:00 AM/c.

new host image


Segment One (01:20): Dr. Jeremy Alland from Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush talks about the definition and growth of Platform Tennis, unusually high rate of related injuries and the importance of warming up prior to play. Dr. Alland graduated from Rush Medical College in Chicago, IL, where he was awarded the prestigious William H. Harrison, PhD Award for selfless leadership, aspiration and collaboration. He went on to complete a Family Medicine residency at UPMC St. Margaret Hospital in Pittsburgh, PA, where he served as Chief Resident and was peer-selected as the best resident teacher.

ABC7’s Judy Hsu reports on the growing popularity of platform tennis, which is played outdoors in the winter. Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush recently completed the first-ever national survey of ‘paddle tennis’ players who reported that two-thirds had sustained an injury due to the sport. Of those, one half had sustained more than one injury. Dr. Jeremy Alland, sports  medicine physician, talks about the risk of the sport and platform tennis players talk about what keeps them coming back.

Segment Two (13:50): Dr. Cole as Chairman of the NBA Research Committee andImage result for nba injuries Steve Kashul discuss the work of the committee in tracking and sharing data on performance and injuries in the NBA; how this data is used to minimize future injuries and maximize the performance of valuable professional players.

The initiative is in partnership with General Electric Healthcare. It is spearheaded by a 20-person strategic advisory board comprising team physicians and clinical researchers from various fields, including orthopedics, sports medicine, radiology and epidemiology.

 “NBA players are among the best athletes in the world, and their well-being is the league’s highest priority,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement released to ESPN.com. “Our support for medical research through our partnership with GE Healthcare will help us improve the long-term health and wellness of NBA players. We are also excited that this research collaboration will provide important insights to athletes at all levels.”