Discomfort in your hip and thigh due to pain such as aches, burning can be a common experience. Whereas, severe hip and leg pain can be debilitating. While in most cases it’s nothing to be alarmed about, there are some instances in which pain in your hip and thigh can be a symptom of a more serious underlying condition.
In adults, three of the bones of the pelvis have fused into the hip bone or acetabulum which forms part of the hip region.
The single bone in the thigh is called the femur. This bone is very thick and strong (due to the high proportion of bone tissue), and forms a ball and socket joint at the hip, and a modified hinge joint at the knee.
The hip joint, scientifically referred to as the acetabulofemoral joint ,is the joint between the femur and acetabulum of the pelvis and its primary function is to support the weight of the body in both static (e.g. standing) and dynamic (e.g. walking or running) postures. The hip joints have very important roles in retaining balance, and for maintaining the pelvic inclination angle.
Signs and symptoms that warrant a visit to a medical professional include:
- Thigh pain with redness, swelling, and warmth of your skin. This may be a sign of a blood clot and requires immediate medical attention.
- Itching, tingling, numbness or burning sensation in hip or thigh region.
- Severe pain that limits your ability to function normally. If you are having difficulty walking normally due to your pain, visit your doctor.
- Pain that is accompanied by fever or malaise. This could be a sign of infection.
- Thigh pain that is accompanied by deformity. A muscle strain or tear may cause your thigh to look deformed, and a visit to an orthopaedic surgeon may be needed to accurately diagnose and treat your condition.
- Thigh, hip pain that comes on suddenly and limits your ability to walk. A pinched nerve in your back may be the culprit here, and checking in with an orthopaedist is recommended.
Most cases of thigh pain can be diagnosed accurately by your family physician or orthopaedist. Some thigh pain that is caused by nerve compression or neurological conditions may require a neurologist to get an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.
When to see a doctor
- Most of the time you can treat your hip pain yourself with simple self-help treatments. If your pain is extremely bad or hasn’t improved after two weeks of regularly taking painkillers, you should see your doctor.
- You should see your doctor straight away if:
- you’ve had a fall or injured your hip
- the pain is getting worse
- you’re having difficulty with daily activities, for example walking, going up stairs or leaning forwards when sitting
- you feel feverish or unwell, or you’ve been losing weight.
Hip and leg pain can arise from a variety of conditions, including:
- Injury such as a bump or fall
- Hip bone spurs
- Bad postures
- Overuse of the joints
- Feel severe pain after an injury or accident
- Experience numbness or weakness in your legs
- Cannot control your bowels or bladder
- Arthritis – Inflammation of the joints that can cause pain and swelling.
- Bursitis – Hip bursitisis referred to as trochanteric bursitis and occurs when the fluid-filled sacs on the outside of your hips become inflamed.
- Bone cancer or leukemia. Some forms of cancer like bone cancer can cause pain in the limbs and hips.
- Damage to the nervous system can cause tingling or burning sensations in the legs, buttocks, and other areas.
- Osteoporosis. Bone loss can be a source of the legs and hip pain.
- Sacroiliitis –Inflammation of the joints where the spine connects to the pelvis can cause hip and leg pain.
- Hernia – Pain in the groin can also radiate into the leg and hip.
- Pregnancy – The hormones during pregnancy cause widening of the pelvis and may result in joint pain felt in the hips, legs, or pelvis.
Hip and leg pain may worsen with activity and prevent a full range of motion. In some cases, long-term pain can cause a limp or difficulty walking.
- Hip and Thigh pain is also frequently a sign of injury, such as the following:
- Muscle strain– It is a common injury that happens when the muscle fibres tear as a result of overstretching.
- Tendinitis – It is also known as Tendonitis is inflammation of a tendon. Tendons are thick cords that join the muscles to bone. Tendinitis often affects tendons in the hamstrings or near the heel bone.
- Sciatica – Sciatica is an injury or irritation of sciatica nerve. Pressure or damage to the sciatic nerve can be a source of radiating leg or hip pain.
- Dislocation Injuries –Fractures, tears, or dislocations can cause pain in the hip, knee, or back.
- Shin splints– It causes pain along the inner edge of the shinbone, or tibia. The injury can occur when the muscles around the shinbone tear as a result of overuse.
- Stress fractures – These are tiny breaks in the leg bones, particularly those in the shinbone.
- Meralgia paresthetica – It is caused by pressure on the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve, meralgia paresthetica (MP) It typically occurs on one side of the body and is caused by compression of the nerve.
- Greater trochanteric pain syndrome – Greater trochanteric pain syndrome can cause pain in the outside of your upper thighs. It’s typically caused by injury, pressure, or repetitive movements, and it’s common in runners and in women.
- Hip labral tear – When the labrum or the cartilaginous ring around the hip socket (acetabulum) tears, the symptoms can be variable.
- IT band syndrome – Common among runners, iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS) happens when the iliotibial band, which runs down the outside of the thigh from the hip to the skin, becomes tight and inflamed.
- Hip flexor strain – Hip flexor muscles can be strained with overuse, and can cause pain or muscle spasms in your thighs as well.
Remember, if you’re ever struggling with a pain for a long, don’t suffer in silence, find the best doctor to your nearest location. And talk to a healthcare professional today!