What Are the Causes of Pain in the Upper Hip or Waist Area?


Being in any kind of pain can be uncomfortable, especially when you’re unsure of its cause. The hip, its joint and its tissues can withstand quite a bit when it comes to movement and torsion, but even one of the strongest joints and tissues in the body can succumb to pain. Read on to learn what the causes of upper (outer) and inner hip pain are, as well as their subsequent treatments.

What Are the Differences Between Inner and Outer Hip Pain?

If you’re experiencing pain on the “inner” part of your hip, which is closer to the groin area, this is likely due to a problem with the joint itself. Pain in the outer (upper) area of the hip is more related to the soft tissue that surrounds the hip. As such, these are very different conditions and treatments.

What Causes Outer Hip Pain?

Outer hip pain is caused by the tissues surrounding the hip joint, not by the joint itself. Soft tissues can mean your ligaments, tendons and muscles that form around the hip. The most common causes of outer hip pain include bursitis and tendonitis.

What Is Bursitis?

Bursae are located throughout the body, and not just in the hip joint. They are small sacs filled with fluid that help form a cushion between the soft tissues and bones, so they don’t rub together. Unfortunately, however, sometimes they become inflamed, which is a condition known as bursitis. When bursitis occurs in the hip, it’s referred to as trochanteric bursitis. Bursitis is usually treated with over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, corticosteroid injections or physical therapy.

What Is Tendonitis?

When your tendons, which are the soft tissues that connect muscle to bone, become inflamed, this is called tendonitis. When tendonitis is experienced in the hip, it’s often because of a gluteus medius tear. The gluteus medius surrounds the hip and a tear can be a source of great pain. Long-term strenuous exercise (such as that of an athlete) or simple wear and tear can cause the issue. It’s treated similarly to bursitis, with NSAIDs, corticosteroid injections and physical therapy. Tendonitis of the hip may also be treated with surgery or the RICE method (rest, ice, compression and elevation).

What Causes Inner Hip Pain?

Inner hip pain is caused by a problem with the actual hip joint itself. This type of pain can be caused by rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis, both of which lead to inflammation of the hip joint, or hip fractures. Hip fractures are more common as patients age and bones become more brittle. Falls and subsequent hip fractures occur frequently in the elderly. Cancer is another possible cause of hip pain, such as when a tumor begins in the bone. Avascular necrosis is another cause, which is the stifling of blood to the hip bone.

What Could Cause Waist Pain?

Because of its location, waist pain and lower back pain are often confused. If one has pain in the stomach itself, it’s likely a gastrointestinal disturbance; however, pain in the waist area is the same as lower back pain. Just as with outer hip pain, low back pain is caused by soft tissue problems, such as muscle or ligament strain. If you’re experiencing any type of chronic pain in the hip or waist area that’s not relieved by over-the-counter medications, it’s best to see your healthcare provider for an evaluation.