Hip Diagram

Your hip

The hip joint is a ball and socket joint between the top of the thigh bone (femur) and the pelvis which lies deep in the groin. It consists of a ball (femoral head) at the top of your femur and a socket (acetabulum) in your pelvis. The surfaces of the ball and socket are covered by a smooth, low friction material called articular cartilage, which cushions the bones and lets them move easily.

Ligaments and muscles help keep the ball stable and supported within the socket whilst allowing a large range of movement. The hip joint bears the full weight of your body.

In fact, when you walk, the force transmitted through your hip can be up to three times your body weight. As well as transmitting weight, the hip needs to be able to move freely to enable you to function normally. Muscles surrounding the hip such as your buttock (gluteal) and thigh muscles (quads) are also important in keeping your hip strong and preventing a limp.

What causes Hip pain?

Pain in your hip can originate from the joint itself, the surrounding bones, muscles, ligaments or tendons. You may feel pain in the groin area or in other areas, such as the outer (lateral) side of the hip, the buttock, the lower back or the front of the hip into your thigh.

With regular exercise and self-management steps, the pain can ease in time. Hip problems can cause a range of symptoms including pain, stiffness and weakness.

In many cases, new or flare-up of long-standing hip problems should begin to settle within 6 weeks without the need to see a healthcare professional.

Hip problems can be caused by injury or normal age-related changes.

As you get older normal age-related changes can cause your hip problem to flare-up now and again, often for no reason.


Keeping active is an essential part of your treatment and recovery and is the single best thing you can do for your health.

Being physically active can:

  • maintain your current levels of fitness – even if you have to modify what you normally do, any activity is better than none
  • keep your other muscles and joints strong and flexible
  • prevent a recurrence of the problem
  • help you aim for a healthy body weight

Avoid sports and heavy lifting until you have less discomfort and good movement. Remember to warm up fully before you start sporting activities.

Common Hip Conditions

Below are links to more information about common conditions affecting the hip. Click on the image that best represents the area you have symptoms for more details.

When to seek help

The majority of symptoms and pain should get better with 6-8 weeks.

Speak to a healthcare professional as soon as possible if:

  • there’s been significant trauma, for example a fall from height or direct blow to the hip
  • you can’t put any weight at all through your leg
  • you have a lump in your groin region as this may be a hernia
  • you feel pain or swelling around your testicles