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Hip Arthritis

Hip Arthritis

Arthritis is another common cause of hip pain when walking, standing, and sitting. Different kinds of arthritis can cause the protective cartilage covering of the hip joint to wear out. This leads to pain when sitting because you have to bend your hip joints when you sit.

Arthritis can lead to painful rubbing and swelling in the hip joint when you’re sitting. Types of arthritis in the hip joint include:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis. This will usually cause pain and inflammation (swelling) in both hip joints.
  • Osteoarthritis. This is wear-and-tear arthritis that can happen in one or both hips.
  • Ankylosing spondylitis. This kind of arthritis normally happens in the spine, but can also cause hip pain when you’re sitting.
  • Psoriatic arthritis. This is similar to rheumatoid arthritis, it causes swelling and pain in the hip joint, especially when you’re sitting down for a long time.


Bursitis is a kind of inflammation (swelling) in the bursa, the small fluid-filled sacs that act like shock absorbers in the hip joints. When they get damaged or swollen, the hip joints can become a bit stiff and tender. Bursitis can trigger pain on the outer and back hips when sitting.



Sitting for too long, especially if you have poor posture, can stretch out the tendons in the hips. This can lead to tendinitis, or inflammation in the hip tendons. Tendinitis can cause hip pain when sitting, walking, and lying down.

Pinched nerve

A pinched or damaged nerve in your lower back can lead to hip pain when sitting. The sciatic nerve in your back runs through the buttocks, hips, and legs. Sciatica is when this nerve gets pinched or damaged. It can cause sharp pain in the muscles around the buttocks and hips when you sit or lie down.

Loose or damaged hip joint

Femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) happens when the long leg bone (the femur) doesn’t fit right in the hip joint. This might happen when the cartilage between these bones wears away or is damaged.

FAI can lead to a sharp or dull hip pain when sitting. You might also feel your hip joints “pop” or stiffen a bit when you sit down or get up.


Lupus is an autoimmune disease like rheumatoid arthritis. It happens when the immune system is out of balance and attacks the body’s joints. Lupus can lead to hip joint swelling or damage. If you have lupus you might feel hip pain when sitting or lying down.


How is hip pain diagnosed?

Your doctor can usually find out the cause of your hip pain with a few tests and scans. You might also need to see a bone specialist (orthopedic surgeon), an immune specialist (immunologist), or a physiotherapist.

To find the right diagnosis your doctor will give you a checkup that might include:

  • Medical history. This report helps your doctor find out if you have joint pain or swelling anywhere else in your body or any chronic health issues.
  • Physical checkup. This exam can help determine if your hip joint is swollen or damaged.
  • Blood test. This lab test checks for infection and autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.
  • X-ray. This imaging test can help identify fractures or damage to the bones in the hip joint, groin, and lower back.
  • MRI scan. This imaging test helps check for injury or damage to the hip muscles, ligaments, and tendons.
  • Patrick test. This is a type of physical exam that assesses movement in the hip joint.
  • Gait test. This test examines how your hips and legs move when you walk.


How is hip pain when sitting treated?

Treatment for hip pain when sitting depends on the cause. Sometimes correcting your posture or changing your chair can help solve the hip pain. You may not need treatment at all.

In some cases a chiropractor and physical therapist can help you realign your hips. Hip and back adjustments can help keep the hip joints balanced.

Physiotherapy exercises help to strengthen the lower back and hip muscles. Improving the core muscles in your back and abdomen also release pressure from incorrect sitting and walking.

Treatment for hip pain when sitting includes:

  • over-the-counter (OTC) pain medication (aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen)
  • prescription pain medication
  • pain relief creams or gels
  • heat therapy
  • cold compress
  • massage therapy
  • weight loss
  • exercises
  • anti-inflammatory – steroid medications
  • steroid injections for arthritis
  • nerve block injection
  • physical therapy
  • PRP Injection
  • Radiofrequency ablation of genicular nerve
  • knee brace
  • back brace or support
  • surgery

Home remedies for hip pain when sitting

There are several things you can do at home to help relieve your hip pain.

Sitting tips for hip pain:

  • Make sure your office chair, car seat, and other places you sit often are good for your posture.
  • Add back or seat support to improve your posture when you’re sitting. Use a firm cushion or foam base.
  • Check where your feet land when you’re sitting. They should be flat on the floor.
  • Use a footstool to rest your feet on when you’re sitting.
  • Avoid sitting on a very soft surface like a bed or sofa for too long.
  • Avoid using very hard surfaces like a wooden chair, stool, or bench. A firm but cushioned surface molds to your body somewhat and helps to support your hips when sitting.

All of these things help to balance the pressure to get rid of hip pain when sitting.


Other home remedies for hip pain when sitting:

  • Wear loose clothing. Tight jeans, pants, or belts can lead to hip pain when sitting.
  • Avoid high heels or uncomfortable shoes even when sitting. They can cause your hips to tilt unevenly.
  • Stretch at your desk.
  • Do hip and pelvis stretching exercises like sitting on an exercise ball.
  • Adjust your seat height.
  • Adjust your seat support and tilt.
  • Use a seat with back (lumbar) support.
  • Sit in ergonomic chairs, which help posture.
  • Apply heat or ice to sore areas.
  • Try massage therapy with pain relief ointments or essential oils for muscle pain.
  • Do home exercises for hip pain.

What’s the outlook for people with hip pain when sitting?

How long you have hip pain depends on the cause. You might have hip pain when sitting just once or twice, or it may be chronic.

In most cases, hip pain when sitting can be solved by improving your posture or changing where you’re sitting. If you have chronic conditions like arthritis, treatment can help improve your hip pain. You might still get hip pain occasionally with arthritis joint pain flare-ups.

The bottom line

Hip pain when sitting is common for older adults, but it can happen at any age — probably because we spend so much time sitting!

Hip pain when sitting is usually linked to your posture and what you’re sitting on. Hip pain can also be caused by chronic health conditions like arthritis and lupus.

Any kind of hip pain when sitting can normally be managed or treated. In some cases, you might need long-term care like medications and physical therapy.


Many people experience hip pain at some point in their life. It’s a condition that can be caused by a variety of issues. Knowing where your pain is coming from can give you clues to its cause.

Pain on the inside of your hip or groin is likely a problem within your hip joint. Pain on the outside of your hip, your upper thigh, or your outer buttocks is probably an issue with the muscles or other soft tissues around your hip joint.

It’s also possible that your hip pain is originating in another part of your body, such as your lower back.

Some of the most common reasons for hip pain are:

  • arthritis
  • bursitis (inflammation of a joint)
  • hip dislocation or hip fracture
  • hip labral tear
  • inguinal hernia
  • sprains, strains
  • tendinitis
  • pinched nerves
  • cancer
  • osteoporosis
  • osteomyelitis (bone infection)
  • synovitis (inflammation of the membrane in joint cavities)

Hip pain at-home treatment

In some cases, hip pain is nothing more than a short-term annoyance, while in other cases it can be a sign of a serious health problem. If you have mild to moderate hip pain, you might want to try an at-home treatment.

Basic treatments for all types of hip pain include:

  • Rest. Avoid doing things that require you to bend at the hip or put a lot of pressure on the hip. Avoid sleeping on the side of your hip that is painful and sitting for long periods of time
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers. Some pain-relieving medications like acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB), and naproxen sodium (Aleve) can help reduce inflammation that might be causing or aggravating your hip pain.
  • Cold and heat. Treating pain with heat and cold may help. Wrap an ice pack or a bag of frozen vegetables in a towel to ice your hip. A warm bath or shower may also help reduce your pain and prepare your muscles for stretching.
  • Stretch. Gently stretching your body may reduce hip pain, especially if the cause is a strain or pinched nerve.

If you know what’s causing your hip pain and the cause is not severe, there are things you can do at home to reduce your pain.

Muscle or tendon strain, osteoarthritis, and tendinitis

Pain caused by strains, tendinitis, and some forms of arthritis can be managed at home. Besides the tips above, try tai chi and yoga. These are slow exercises that combine gentle stretching with deep breathing. Both can relax and move the body in ways that won’t worsen your pain.

Sign up for a class with a certified instructor to make sure your experience is enjoyable and safe. Once you learn which movements feel best to you, you can use them to treat your pain.

Rheumatoid arthritis

Those with rheumatoid arthritis may also benefit from tai chi and yoga. Some experts also recommend fish or plant oil supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids to reduce their pain. Like all supplements, oils may interfere with certain medications or cause side effects, so talk with a doctor before trying them.


Arthritis symptoms can often be reduced by:

  • Losing weight, if you are overweight or obese. This can reduce the stress on your joints.
  • Exercising, to help keep your joints flexible. Swimming and cycling are easier on the joints than walking or running.

Medical treatment

If home treatments are not helping to ease your hip pain, it’s important to see a doctor. They will perform a physical examination of your hip to check for redness, swelling, and warmth, which are signs of injury or infection. A doctor will also check your range of motion by asking you to walk or lift the leg attached to the effected hip.

They may also run several laboratory and imaging tests, such as:

  • blood test
  • urine test
  • joint fluid sample (this involves inserting a needle into a joint)
  • X-rays
  • CT scan
  • MRI
  • ultrasound

Once a doctor finds the exact cause of your hip pain, they can recommend a specific treatment plan.


Surgery is a more aggressive treatment for hip pain but is sometimes needed if you are diagnosed with:

  • Septic arthritis. Surgery may include irrigation and debridement of the joint, joint repair, replacement, or fusion.
  • Avascular necrosis and cancer. Surgery involves bone removal, and joint replacement, reshaping, transplantation, or regeneration.
  • Break. Bones are stabilized or pinned together.
  • Hip labral tear. Soft tissue is grafted from elsewhere in the body and used to repair the labrum.
  • Inguinal hernia. Intestinal tissues are pushed back into the abdomen and the abdomen is stitched and reinforced.
  • Legg-Calve-Perthes disease. Hip joint put in proper place and held together with screws and plates.
  • Osteomyelitis. Dead bone is removed and replaced, or existing bones are reinforced.
  • Pinched nerve. Nerve is decompressed, which reduces pressure and pain.

Crutches or cane

Crutches or canes can help assist movement without stressing your joints. You can often get them free of charge through your healthcare provider if you have insurance.


Acupuncture is a developing medical discipline that shows promise in reducing hip pain from most causes. Those with infections or blood clotting issues and people who are afraid of needles should avoid acupuncture.

Hydrotherapy and physical therapy

Hydrotherapy is a form of physical rehabilitation that can encourage movement and uses temperature and pressure to encourage blood flow throughout the body. This can reduce pain in the hips.

Standard physical therapy treatments can also help reduce hip pain in patients with arthritis, strains, tears, tendinitis, and other less severe hip problems.


There are various types of drugs for conditions that weaken bones or cause bone loss and pain, such as arthritis. These include:

  • Counterirritants. Creams and ointments containing capsaicin, the substance that makes peppers spicy, can reduce pain in the joint area.
  • Disease-modifying anti-rheumatics (DMARDs). Drugs like Trexall and Plaquenil are used often to treat RA. They stop or slow the immune system from attacking the joints.
  • Biologic response modifiers. Drugs like Enbrel and Remicade can also stop or slow immune response.
  • Corticosteroids. Drugs like prednisone and cortisone can reduce inflammation and suppress the immune system. They are taken orally or injected into the painful joint.
  • Bisphosphonates. Drugs like AlendronateRisedronate, Ibandronate, and Zoledronic acid can strengthen bones weakened by osteoporosis, preventing pain and further damage.
  • Hormone therapy. Hormones are sometimes used to treat osteoporosis in women.

When to see a doctor

If home treatments do not successfully reduce your hip pain, or if your pain lasts longer than two weeks, schedule an appointment with a doctor.

Call an ambulance or ask someone to drive you to the emergency room if your hip pain began after an injury and is causing:

  • physical deformity of your joint
  • difficulty moving your leg or hip
  • problems walking or bearing weight on the affected leg
  • severe and sudden pain and swelling
  • signs of infection like fever, chills, or redness