While many people with hip arthritis experience dull, aching hip pain, symptoms can vary widely. Recognizing the possible symptoms of hip arthritis and treating them early can relieve pain and slow down the progression of the disease. The primary symptom is pain at and around the hip.

Pain in the Hip, Groin, Back, or Thigh

Hip arthritis is most commonly felt as an aching pain in the front of the groin, and this pain may travel into the thigh. Sometimes pain can be felt at the side of the hip (lateral hip), buttocks, or back of the thigh (posterior thigh).

Hip pain may be aggravated by:

  • Rising from a seated position
  • Weight bearing activities, such as standing, walking, and jogging
  • Certain movements, such as bending to put on shoes and getting in and out of a car
  • Vigorous activity, such as outdoor gardening and participating in sports

Mild hip arthritis may only cause pain occasionally. As hip osteoarthritis worsens over time, pain may become more frequent. Pain may become more constant with activity and be associated with increasing stiffness or discomfort at night.


Other Symptoms of Hip Osteoarthritis

In addition to pain, people with hip arthritis often report one or more of the following symptoms:

Decreased cushioning from loss of cartilage and hip joint swelling can make the hip feel stiff. Stiffness will often occur first thing in the morning or after sitting for a long period. Stiffness may or may not be accompanied by a loss of range of motion.

Decreased range of motion
Normally, the hip’s ball-and-socket construction allows for a wide range of motion. Hip osteoarthritis may make it particularly difficult to spread the legs apart, extend the leg straight back, or to point toes inward and move the entire leg in that direction (internal rotation).

Hip crunching or popping
Called crepitus, joint crunching and popping can be a sign of bone-on-bone friction caused by hip osteoarthritis. (Crepitus by itself without other symptoms is not a cause for concern.)

See What Is Crepitus?

Loss of hip joint function
Hip osteoarthritis can make walking painful, forcing a person to slow down or change the way they walk, employing an awkward gait. Other daily activities that involve bending, such as putting on socks and shoes, can be difficult or impossible. Getting in and out of chairs or cars may also be challenging.


Pain is relieved with rest Most people who have mild to moderate hip arthritis notice that hip pain goes away when resting.

Inactivity makes it worse
While a short rest usually relieves osteoarthritis symptoms, prolonged rest might make them worse. People with hip osteoarthritis often find stiffness and pain are most noticeable when they try to get out of bed in the morning or out of a chair after a long period of sitting.

Pain that is worse after inactivity may also be a symptom of Hip (Trochanteric) Bursitis

Hip osteoarthritis pain usually develops gradually, over months or years. Sudden hip pain is likely caused by a trauma or another condition, not osteoarthritis. If the hip feels hot or the skin around the joint turns red, then an infection may be the cause and medical attention is recommended.

Watch: Hip Pain from a Labral Tear Video

Dr. Carolyn Marquardt is a physiatrist at Swedish Spine, Sports & Musculoskeletal Medicine in Seattle, WA. She specializes in sports medicine and has more than 20 years of experience providing non-surgical care for muscle and joint injuries.

Dr. Andrew Cole has 30 years of experience specializing in spine and joint pain management. Dr. Cole has held numerous medical appointments throughout his career, and recently served as the Executive Director of Rehabilitation & Performance Medicine Enterprise for Swedish Health Services and as Medical Director of Ambulatory Musculoskeletal Services for Swedish Medical Group.