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Hip pain

Diagnosis of hip pain

Diagnosis is an individualized process based on your health history and symptoms. Your doctor will ask you about how and when your hip pain arose, as well as what factors exacerbate or improve your symptoms.

After a health history, the next step is often a physical exam to check for symptoms and evaluate your range of motion.

Diagnosis may also be based on imaging scans such as x-rays, CT scans, and MRIs, which provide an accurate picture of the bones and soft tissues such as ligaments and bursae surrounding your hip joint. Blood tests or joint aspiration may be needed for a correct diagnosis as well.


When you meet with an orthopedic specialist at Dignity Health, you can discuss your symptoms and health history. After a physical exam to assess your overall movement and hip range of motion, your doctor will work with you to develop a customized treatment plan.

Conventional treatments for hip pain range from resting at home and physical therapy to medication and surgery. Surgical interventions for hip pain may include repairs of any torn ligaments. In some cases, a partial or total hip replacement may be the best option for you. Talk with your doctor about your unique situation.


Most people recover from hip pain within a few days, or up to three weeks. How soon you can expect to return to your daily activities will depend on your age and the cause and severity of your hip pain. Mild hip injuries often dissipate on their own with a few weeks of rest and pain management.

Fractures, dislocations, and tendonitis may take more time to resolve.

If you undergo a hip replacement or other hip surgery, you may need to remain in recovery for several months. You may need to have physical therapy to regain strength in your leg and hip muscles and prevent re-injury.

When to seek a doctor’s care for hip pain

Hip pain is not always serious and may not even require treatment. If you experience a mild injury and can still move your leg, you may be able to treat your hip pain at home using over-the-counter medications and rest.

However, a more severe injury such as hip dislocation or fracture does require urgent treatment. If you notice any of the following, seek immediate medical attention:

  • You cannot move your leg
  • You cannot walk or put weight on your leg
  • You heard or felt a pop at the time of injury
  • You see any deformity around your hip area
  • There is sudden swelling around your hip
  • You notice signs of infection, such as a fever, chills, heat, or redness around the injury
  • You have numbness in your leg or foot
  • You have severe pain that gets worse or does not get better over time

Dignity Health provides comprehensive care for hip pain, as part of our orthopedic services. To learn more or speak with a specialist regarding your symptoms, Find a Doctor.

The information contained in this article is meant for educational purposes only and should not replace advice from your healthcare provider.