Lateral Hip Pain FAQs

Say Goodbye to Lateral Hip Pain: Understanding and Overcoming the Ache

Does your hip feel like it's staging a rebellion against your every move? You're not alone. Lateral hip pain, while often brushed off, can seriously cramp your style. But fear not! Let's delve into the nitty-gritty of this bothersome ache and explore ways to bid it farewell.

What structures are generally involved in lateral hip pain?

First things first, let's pinpoint the source of the discomfort. Lateral hip pain is a broad term which categorises all pain on the outside of your hip. It typically originates from structures around the greater trochanter—a bony prominence on the outside of the thigh bone. This region contains many tendons, muscles, and bursae, all of which can become irritated and inflamed, leading to that all-too-familiar ache on the outside of your hip.

A bit of more information about these structures:


  • Tendons are made of elastic connective tissue which connects muscles to bones. They help you move your body. When a muscle contracts, it pulls on the tendon, which pulls on the bone, which results in movement. It is quite strong tissue, but can sometimes get overloaded, sensitive and inflamed and isn't up to the task of tolerating day to day loads that are placed upon it - leading to tendinopathy
    • One such tendon which is commonly implicated in lateral hip pain is the gluteus medium tendon.
    •  Read more on tendinopathy here:


  • Bursae are fluid filled sacs which help facilitate low friction movement of tendons over bony prominences. This helps with the smooth motion and protects the tendons and bony prominence. Sometimes, frustratingly, these guys can cause pain when they get inflamed. This is what's referred to as bursitis; a common condition which you may have already heard of. Basically, this is where the bursa increases in volume and there is a presence of inflammatory cells. 
    • There is a bursa in the lateral hip which is commonly aggravated and can be a potential source of the pain you might be experiencing.
    • Read more on what bursitis is here:

What are some of the common factors in the onset of lateral hip pain?

There are several factors can contribute to the onset of lateral hip pain. Tightness in the iliotibial band (ITB), which is a strong band of connective tissue that exists on the outer thigh. Tightness in muscular structures such as the gluteal muscles, or hip flexors can also exacerbate the issue. Poor loading can cause the tissues to become over-worked, leading to the beginning of discomfort. With overuse of particular tissues, the tissue isn't able to recover as fast as it is used. This imbalance over time, leads to poor adaptation of these tissues and their inability to tolerate future loading. Additionally, biomechanical imbalances can inflame the surrounding tissues, perpetuating the cycle of discomfort.

What are the signs and symptoms commonly experienced with lateral hip pain?

How do you know if you're dealing with lateral hip pain? Keep an eye out for telltale signs such as:

  • Pain or tenderness on the outside of the hip, particularly with activities like walking, climbing stairs, or standing for extended periods.
  • Discomfort that worsens with prolonged sitting or lying on the affected side.
  • Stiffness or limited range of motion in the hip joint.
  • You might find the pain gets worse with standing on one leg

How do you go about treating and managing lateral hip pain?

Now, onto the good stuff—how to kick lateral hip pain to the curb:

Rest and Modify Activities:

Give your hip a breather by avoiding activities that exacerbate the pain. Activity modification is key to allowing the pain to settle. If the hip is continually aggravated, it can lead to sensitivity of those tissues involved. Some discomfort is expected, especially if the pain is chronic, but shouldn't exceed tolerable limits. Opt for low-impact exercises like swimming or cycling to maintain fitness without aggravating the issue.

Stretch and Strengthen:

Targeted stretches and strengthening exercises can help alleviate tension and improve muscle imbalances. Focus on stretches for the ITB, gluteals, and hip flexors, coupled with strengthening exercises to enhance hip stability and support. Global lower limb strengthening exercises are good to increase strength of these muscles in functional positions as well. As you improve, your exercises can be progressed to include single leg variants. This will be very challenging for the glutes, quads, lateral hip muscles and stabilisers. This will help build a good, strong, robust hip that can tackle any challenge you throw at it. 

Address Biomechanical Factors: 

Work with a physiotherapist to identify and address any underlying biomechanical issues contributing to your hip pain. This may involve gait analysis, corrective exercises, or orthotic interventions to optimise alignment and function.

Manual Therapy: 

Hands-on techniques such as massage, myofascial release, or dry needling can provide temporary relief by releasing tension and promoting tissue healing. This can be helpful, especially at early stages of recovery where the pain can be more intense, and your exercise intensity is increasing. 

Gradual Return to Activity:

As pain gradually subsides, gradually reintroduce activities and exercises, taking care to monitor for any signs of recurrence. Listen to your body and progress at a pace that feels comfortable. This is a key part of rehab as the activity you desire to do becomes a very specific rehab exercise in itself - what better way to prepare your body for doing a thing than to do the thing! As stated previously, this has to be graduated and staged appropriately to avoid flaring up the hip and ensuring progression is meaningful, limiting the chance of regression and flare ups.

Something to note:

Remember, overcoming lateral hip pain is a journey, not a sprint. Be patient with yourself and prioritise consistency in your treatment approach. With time, dedication, and a sprinkle of TLC, you'll be back to strutting your stuff without the hip hassle. It's common to experience ups and downs with rehab, so don't be disheartened with small set backs and maintain focus on progression.

If you need help with any of this, we would love to help you out!

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