Why does my lateral hip hurt?

If you’re experiencing pain down the outside of your hip then you’ve got lateral hip pain. It’s worth noting that this pain can travel down the outer side of your thigh but it doesn’t always.

Lateral hip pain can arrive suddenly, although it’s often the case that it builds up slowly over time. The good news is that, in most cases, the problem settles by itself, although it can take up to six weeks for this to happen.

Of course, that doesn’t help while you’re suffering. The pain is usually worse when standing, especially if you need to stand for a long period of time. But, it can be much worse if you’ve been walking a lot or if you lay down on the affected hip.  This can make it difficult to sleep which slows the recovery process as your body is fighting fatigue at the same time as healing your hip.

The Cause of Lateral Hip Pain

The most common reason for lateral hip pain is the degeneration of the tendons surrounding the smaller hip muscles. The degeneration can be because of extreme activity which has torn the tendons, or it can be a result of compression, caused by using the larger hip muscles significantly more than the smaller ones. 

This imbalance means the smaller muscles and tendons tear very easily.

Dealing with Lateral Hip Pain

It’s always worth checking out your local physio in Botany when you’re dealing with pain caused by damaged tendons and muscles. They can gently manipulate the joint and provide you with some exercise to help manage the pain and speed the recovery process.

It’s also a good idea not to rest for extended periods of time. During the first 24-48 hours of pain, you’ll need to rest more than usual but it’s important to keep moving as much as possible. This will help the tendons and muscles to heal and improve mobility.

If the pain is really bad and you’re struggling to move around, take painkillers and make sure you rotate your hip for at least 10-20 seconds every 30 minutes.  You can also alternate between an ice bag, and putting a warm wet towel over your affected hip, this will help to reduce any swelling.

After 48 hours have passed it’s important to start moving more, ideally, you should try to return to normal, focusing on maximizing your movement and coping with the pain. Of course, sports and heavy lifting should be avoided, and you should use a handrail if you’re going up or downstairs. This isn’t just to prevent you falling, it lightens the load on your hip as you go up or down.

You can start doing gentle exercises, your physio will have advised the best ones to do. You should also talk to them about an ongoing exercise plan. The best way to stop you lateral hip pain returning is to strengthen the muscles and tendons in this area. Gentle exercise is sufficient.