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Causes of Hip Pain in Athletes

Causes of Hip Pain in Athletes

This article aims to give athletes a better idea of whether osteoarthritis or something more unusual is causing hip pain, and what they can do about it. Athletes often suffer from hip pain. Here is a rundown of what might be causing that discomfort and how to get hip pain relief.


When a pain in the hip is followed by a clicking feeling after a fall on the hip or while twisting the body, it could be a cartilage tear. In this case, it is recommended to seek advice from a sports medicine specialist to prevent any further damage.

Osteitis Pubis

Osteitis Pubis is the inflammation of the pubic symphysis; this is the point where the left and right pubic bones meet at the front of the pelvic girdle. Individuals who are at risk are distance runners, weight lifters, dancers or in some cases people who have recently had prostate or bladder surgery.  A thorough rehabilitation under the guidance of an experienced Sports Physiotherapist is recommended to avoid the aggravation of the area in the future.

Iliotibial Band Syndrome

This syndrome, an inflamed ligament in the thigh, is often caused by too much running and is usually treated with rest. This condition is a result of a sprain or strain.

Hip Pointer Injury

A hip pointer injury is an acute damage caused by a direct impact to the iliac crest of the pelvis. In extreme cases, it can cause bleeding into the abdominal muscles, which attach to the iliac crest. With this injury the overlying muscles are often bruised thus; the pain experienced can be intense. It's wise to rest to speed the recovery or use proper protective equipment.

Hamstring Strain or Pulled Hamstring

A hamstring pull feels like a sudden sharp pain in the back of the thigh. To treat it, rest, hot and cold compressions followed by a full rehabilitation and exercise program.

Hip Arthritis

Osteoarthritis develops when inflammation and injury to the hip joint cause a breaking down of cartilage tissue. The two main types of osteoarthritis are:

  • Wear and Tear: A lifetime of just using these joints.  It affects the fingers, knees, spine, hips, and thumbs.

  • Disease/Injury Specific: Osteoarthritis that occurs after inflammation or injury in a joint, or due to another condition that affects the composition of the cartilage, such as hemochromatosis.


Hip Bursitis

A bursa is a fluid-filled sac that functions and assists in lubricating the movements of various tendons to reduce friction between moving tissues of the body. After repetitive micro-trauma, this sac can become inflated and can be extremely painful. The symptoms are predominantly from the outer side of the hip. To rule out possibilities, the doctor will perform a  physical examination, to look for tenderness in the area of the hip pointer.

When Should I See a Doctor?

Understanding the common causes of hip and groin pain can be a little tricky, anytime you experience sharp pain in the hip see your physician especially when it's hard to assign the pain to a particular area. If the pain becomes severe, consult a doctor or a sports specialist to get the cause diagnosed, early diagnosis is the key to a quick recovery.

For more information, contact Dr. Dan Albright at 919-863-6808.

  • ABOS
  • AAOS
  • NCOA
  • PractEssentials