Hip Pain Causes, Treatments & Physiotherapy Techniques

People of all ages and fitness levels can experience hip pain related to musculoskeletal issues or general wear and tear of the joints.

Problems inside your hip joint can cause pain on the inside of your hip or groin. Pain felt on the outside of your hip, upper thigh or outer buttock is usually linked to soft tissue, muscle, tendon or ligament problems associated with your hip joint. Hip pain can sometimes be caused by referred pain from a condition in other areas such as your lower back. Having a physiotherapist assess your hip pain will identify the cause of your pain allowing for more targeted treatment options.

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We’ve outlined some of the most common causes of hip pain from various wear and tear activities below.

Osteoarthritis In Hips

Wear and tear to the hips can lead to osteoarthritis among the older population. Osteoarthritis is inflammation and injury to a joint which causes your cartilage to break down. Break down of cartilage causes swelling, deformity and pain.

The precise causes of osteoarthritis of the hip is unknown. Factors contributing to the onset of the condition include:

  • Hip joint injury
  • Degeneration due to ageing
  • Overuse of the hip joins from sports or leisure activities
  • A genetic predisposition
  • Being overweight

As osteoarthritis of the hip is a degenerative condition, early diagnosis and treatment can reduce the speed and extent of the hip degeneration. Hip pain exercises can help manage your pain and enable you to lead a healthy active lifestyle.

The primary goal in treating hip osteoarthritis is to improve mobility and lifestyle quality. This starts with improving the hip function and controlling pain through a combination of:

  • Rest
  • Ice and heat treatment
  • Stretching and strengthening exercises
  • Reducing stress on the joint via physiotherapy exercises
  • Dietary improvement including foods rich in anti-inflammatory anthocyanidins such as cherries and red fruits
  • Reduction of excess weight

Sacroiliac Joint Pain

Your Sacroiliac Joints (SIJ) are an important link between your lower spine and your pelvis. Your sacroiliac joints need to be a stiff and rigid link between the pelvic bones, allowing only a few degrees of movement. Trauma and hyper-mobility can cause your sacroiliac joints to have too great a degree of uncontrolled motion. This stresses your joint position and may allow your sacroiliac joints to adopt an abnormal alignment.

Pain triggered by your SIJ can stem from:

  • Contact sports or repeated heavy lifting.
  • Scoliosis and leg length discrepancies which place unequal pressure on one side of the pelvis, resulting in wear and tear of the SIJ.
  • Pregnancy.
  • Leaning on one leg for long periods of time.

When you see Southport Central Physio for SIJ treatment, treatment methods may include exercises such as:

  • Isometric Knee Push
  • Glute Bridge
  • Ball Squeeze between the knees
  • Core isometric with Resistance bands
  • Gluteus Medius Strengthening

Our physiotherapists will do an initial consultation to determine the underlying cause of your hip pain before recommending the treatment solutions best suited to your needs.

Hip Pain

Wear and Tear Pain from Endurance Activities or Prolonged Sitting

Medius Syndrome

Gluteus medius syndrome a.k.a. Runner’s Butt or Dead Butt Syndrome is an injury which causes pain on the outside of your hip. The wear and tear incurred by the gluteus medius are similar to overuse injuries to the rotator cuff. It is most frequently seen in distance runners, walkers, weight lifters, cross-trainers and climbers.

The Gluteus medius muscle contracts your weight-bearing hip structure when you walk, run or climb. When your hip flexors activate your gluteus medius muscle activates. An inflamed tendon can result in the gluteus medius muscle not releasing, hence its “dead butt” nickname.

Many of us sit behind a desk at work. The sit position tightens our hip flexors. Inadequate stretching of your hip flexors prior to walking running or climbing may also lead to gluteus medius syndrome.

Inadequate gluteal and hip muscle strength can lead to excessive stress being placed on the gluteus medius tendon. If you walk, run, climb, lift weights or cross-train regularly and don’t strengthen your large muscles supporting your pelvis your hip’s smaller muscles and tendons are forced to take on that extra pressure.

Pain in your hip usually worsens during weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, running, cross-training or climbing. Left untreated, walkers, runners, weightlifters and cross-trainers try to compensate for their pain by adjusting their stride mechanics, placing pressure on other parts of their lower limbs. This usually leads to additional injuries and complications.

Piriformis Syndrome

Piriformis syndrome is where the piriformis muscle located in the buttocks spasms causing pain. The piriformis muscle may also irritate the neighbouring sciatic nerve causing pain, tingling and numbness along the back of the leg and down into the foot.

Piriformis syndrome may result from:

  • Muscle spasms in the piriformis muscle due to muscle irritation or irritation of the nearby hip or sacroiliac joint
  • Tightening of the muscle, in response to injury or spasm
  • Swelling of the piriformis muscle, due to a spasm or sporting injury
  • Bleeding in and around the piriformis muscle.

Any of these problems or a combination may affect your piriformis muscle. Several of these may be caused by a sporting injury.

Stretching exercises for your piriformis, hip extensors and hamstrings may help reduce your pain and improve your range of motion. Your physiotherapist will guide you through these.

Snapping Hip or Dancer’s Hip

Snapping hip or dancers hip is a problem where a snapping sensation is felt or a snapping sound is heard over the hip joint while walking, running, leg movements during physical activity and for some, even getting up off a chair.

The most common cause of snapping hip syndrome we see at Southport Central Physiotherapy and Sports Injury Clinic is due to tightness in the muscles and tendons around the hip. Sometimes, a cartilage tear, a loose piece of cartilage or fragments of broken bone or cartilage in the joint space can lead to the snapping sound, often a byproduct of a sports injury, particularly contact or high-repetition sports.

Your physiotherapist will suggest a set of stretches and exercises to strengthen the musculature around your hip. Specific tendon stretching exercises such as a piriformis stretch or iliotibial band stretches may also be included in your therapy depending on your form of snapping hip.

Our Approach to Treating Back Pain

At the Southport Central Physiotherapy & Sport Injury Clinic, you will be given a thorough consultation with our qualified and friendly staff. They focus on helping you move through each phase of your recovery thanks to our personalised diagnosis and assessment. We believe in supplementing exercise with therapy and where possible mapping a medication-free treatment strategy.

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Senior Musculoskeletal Consultant


Mr Justin Lin

  • B.Phty 2009 UQ
  • CSMT (Certificate in Spinal Manual Therapy) 2010
  • Kinesiotape Level 1 2010
  • M. Phty (Musculoskeletal) 2013 UQ
  • Mulligan Concept Upper Quadrant 2015
  • Mulligan Concept Lower Quadrant

Why choose our clinic

From the moment you book in for your consultation till the completion of your spinal treatments, you will realise the Southport Central Physiotherapy & Sports Injury Clinic difference.

  • Peace of mind
  • Trust
  • Clear communication
  • Dedication and commitment
  • Highest level of care
  • Problem-solving approach
  • Second opinions
  • Non-invasive treatment