The hip region of the human body is packed with muscles, tendons, nerves, and joints. Even the most careful individuals will usually injure this complex area at some point in their lives, causing pain and reduced range of motion in the short term, but potential for hip problems in the long term.

While many simply try to rest their muscles until they are back to feeling well, it’s always a good idea to be well versed in the possible causes of your pain. Due to the severity some types of pelvic discomfort can point to, knowing how to assess your symptoms and whether or not you should seek medical treatment could mean the difference between an easy treatment or one filled with complications.

In the article below, learn about the different types of hip pain and what they might mean.

Anatomy of the Hip

Before getting into some common concerns, it’s important we understand the anatomy of the hip and why it is a sensitive structure prone to injury.

Hip and Groin Pain

As you can see, there is a complex mapping of muscles and finely tuned joints that help our hips move the way they do. Because these structures are attached to both the leg and lower back, it is most common to experience radiating pain in this general region.

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Radiating pain is that which begins in one area of the body and spreads to another. This is normally though inflammation or the chronic compression of certain nerves and muscles.

Radiating pain is important to keep an eye on. Take a look at that hip graphic again– there are so many moving parts to that region of the body, radiating pain means it is difficult to tell where your pain originates– potentially causing you to miss important warning signs of early stage disease.

Assessing Your Symptoms

Having a better understanding of the dense soft tissue landscape around the hip joint, it’s time to look at some of the different conditions that might be causing pain.

1. Muscle Strain

Hip and groin pain is a common side effect of being an athlete, especially in sports such as hockey and soccer, which put a disproportionate strain on this area of the body. The intensity of physical activity causes muscles and tendons to tear, causing pain in the groin, lower back, hips, and more. While rest is usually all that is needed for these injuries, if they become severe enough physical therapy might be in order.

2. Labral Tear

The labrum is a circular cartilage covering on the femoral head– the part of your upper thigh bone that creates the ball and socket joint in your hip. This piece of cartilage is prone to tearing when it is put under heavy or repetitive strain, as is common in many sports.

When the labrum tears, it can create pain that is felt in the hip and groin in addition to causing stiffness and reduced range of motion.

3. Bursitis

This is a condition which attacks the bursae– fluid filled sacs that act as cushioning material around the joints. Bursitis occurs when this material becomes inflamed. This can cause pain and stiffness in the hip joint itself and can greatly reduce its range of motion.

4. Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are hardened, calcified, nodules of minerals that are created by your kidneys. These stones can be either one-off instances or recurrent, and are either passed naturally or through the use of laser lithotripsy technologies.

Kidney stones are a painful condition and often cause a great deal of radiating pain. While pain most commonly begins in the back, it is just as common in the hip and groin depending on where the stone is located.

Additional symptoms to watch for include frequent, painful, cloudly, or foul-smelling urine.

5. Inguinal Hernia

Inguinal hernias are caused by the intestines poking through weakened areas of the abdominal wall. The severity of this condition varies greatly as many different types exist, each with their own challenges. At its most severe, inguinal hernia can cause blocked blood flow to the affected part of the intestines. As such, anytime a hernia is suspected, it is imperative to seek medical advice as soon as possible.

Symptoms include a visible bulge that is sometimes worse when standing or coughing and tenderness at the location of the hernia. As the inguinal canal in both men and women are located in the lower abdomen, this bulge and tenderness often occurs in the front pelvic region.

6. Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease– a disease in which the body attacks its own cells. In the case of RA, the body attacks its own tissue, particularly targeting the joints. This causes joint pain and stiffness in its early stages, worsening until disfigurement or disability becomes inevitable.

Generally, RA attacks smaller joints first. However, as the disease progresses, it begins attacking the larger joints. Often knees are targeted before the hips.

There is no cure for RA but several treatments exist to help slow the progression of the disease and help with pain management.

7. Hip Fracture

Fractures are thought to be less severe than bone breaks. In the case of hip fractures, this is not necessarily true.

A hip fracture is caused when the top of the femur, the bone connecting to the pelvis, is damaged. Depending on the location of the crack, this could put the entire bone at risk for improper or blocked blood flow.

Fractured hips require emergency attention as they are disabling, can cause a series of severe complications, and often require both surgery and physical therapy to heal. Once more depending on the location, size, and severity of the fracture, your doctor may recommend anything from partial to total hip replacement surgery.

Gender-Specific Conditions

Male and female pelvic anatomy are unique from one another in many ways. As such, there are some causes for hip and joint pain that are gender specific.

In women, a common cause of pelvic discomfort is seen as a side effect of pregnancy. In some cases, the position of the fetus is pressing against the pelvis in a way that is compressing nerves. In other instances, the sacroiliac joints are put under strain.

Hip and Groin Pain

For pregnant women, issues with these SI joints could be from the strain of carrying a child, in addition to the fact that these joints naturally become looser as relaxin is released into the body toward the end of pregnancy. This new looseness could create an environment where it is easy to over-stretch the joints.

In women who are not pregnant, hip and groin pain can also be a sign of endometriosis– a condition in which the uterine lining grows on outside of the uterus.

For men, a common cause of discomfort comes through a condition called prostatitis. As the same suggests, this condition involves inflammation of the prostate, a gland located in men just below the bladder.

Inflammation of this gland can cause constriction of the urethra, difficult urinating, cloudy urine, and groin pain.

Causing a similar type of pain is Epididymitis.The epididymis is a small tube that is coiled behind the testicle and can become inflamed at any age. This condition is most commonly contracted through bacteria and/or sexually transmitted infections (STIs), thus resulting in the inflammation of the epididymis.

Scheduling a Visit With a Medical Professional

Many of the conditions that cause pelvic discomfort are benign, but just as many are not.

The Arizona Pain and Spine Institute boasts a full team of seasoned professionals who specialize in minimally invasive and clinically proven modalities to help manage and assess both long and short-term pain. Whether you need to be assessed for more serious medical attention or are looking for a location that can offer pain management and physical therapy, the Arizona Pain and Spine institute can help.
Contact us at (480) 986-7246 for more information on the service we provide, find which doctor is right for you, and get on the path to discussing your next treatment options.