Hip pain when sitting: Causes, treatment, and stretches

Hip pain while sitting can range from mild discomfort to severe. The hip joint may also feel stiff or pop while sitting. Medical conditions, injuries, and incorrect posture can cause hip pain when sitting.

A person can experience pain in one or both hips when sitting.

This article will discuss what hip pain means, possible causes, treatment options, and diagnosis.

It will also look at home remedies and stretches, as well as outlook and when to contact a doctor.

A person may experience hip pain in the joint or the surrounding muscles, ligaments, nerves, and tendons.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, the hip is one of the body’s largest weight-bearing joints. It is where the thigh bone meets the pelvis to form a ball-and-joint socket.

The hip joint consists of two main parts — the femoral head and the acetabulum.

The femoral head is a ball-shaped bone at the top of the thigh bone. It sits in the acetabulum, which is a socket in the pelvis.

The following muscles surround the hip:

  • gluteals, which are the buttock muscles
  • adductor muscles, which are the inner thigh muscles
  • iliopsoas muscle, which begins in the lower back
  • quadriceps, which are four muscles in the front of the thigh
  • hamstrings, which are the muscles on the back of the thigh

Major nerves, such as the sciatic nerve, and blood vessels also surround the hip.

Hip pain that occurs on the outside of the hip, buttock, and upper thigh may result from damage or injury to the muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

Learn more about pain in the outer hip here.

The following can cause hip pain when sitting:

  • Incorrect posture: If a person regularly sits hunched over, this can cause hip pain. Sitting without proper support for the back or hips increases pressure on the hips, and the strain can cause pain over time.
  • Sitting positions: If a person sits cross-legged or leans over to one side, they can put more pressure on their hips, resulting in pain.
  • Sitting on an uneven surface: If a person sits on an uneven surface, such as a cushion or chair that is too soft, it may cause their body to tilt to one side and put more pressure on one hip. Added weight on one hip can result in poor posture and pain in the hip while sitting.

Learn more about sitting positions for good posture here.

Sitting for long periods can lead to a pinched nerve. The medical term for a pinched nerve is radiculopathy.

This occurs due to stretching, compression, or constriction of a nerve or set of nerves.

When this occurs in the hip, it can cause pain in the thigh, buttocks, groin area, and hip. A person may also experience:

  • loss of movement
  • numbness
  • tingling
  • burning sensations

Learn more about a pinched nerve in the hip here.

Treatment

Treatments for radiculopathy include:

  • stretching
  • anti-inflammatory medication
  • hot and cold treatments
  • rest

Sitting for prolonged periods can lead to sciatica. This refers to pain that occurs due to irritation to the sciatic nerve.

The sciatic nerve is the longest and widest in the body and runs from the lower back to just below the knees. Sciatica can cause a person to experience pain in their buttocks, feet, toes, and the back of the leg.

People may develop a stabbing, shooting, or burning pain that can range from mild to severe. Weakness and numbness can also occur.

Treatment

Treatments for sciatica include exercises, stretches, and pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory drugs.

Learn more about how to treat sciatica here.

Bursitis develops in and around the joint due to the inflammation of the bursae. Bursae are small sacs that cushion the areas between bones and muscles and reduce friction on tendons.

Bursae become inflamed when too much friction causes them to fill with liquid in an attempt to protect the tendon.

There are two major bursae in the hip that may become inflamed — the trochanteric bursa and the iliopsoas bursa.

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the main symptom of trochanteric bursitis is pain that begins in the hip and extends to the outside of the thigh area. Initially, the pain is sharp.

The pain can worsen when getting up from a chair after sitting for prolonged periods. Some people report being unable to sleep on that side because the pain wakes them up at night.

Treatment

Treatments for bursitis include:

  • pain and anti-inflammatory medications
  • physical therapy
  • splints and braces
  • hot and cold treatments
  • exercise
  • rest
  • surgery

Learn more about the treatment options for bursitis here.

Tendons are fibrous tissues that join muscle to bone. When inflamed, they can become irritated, swollen, or painful. When it affects the hip, healthcare professionals may refer to it as iliopsoas tendonitis.

Symptoms include pain in the groin or front of the hip. People may also notice snapping or clicking sensations.

Treatment

Treatments for tendinitis include:

Learn more about tendinitis here.

The Arthritis Foundation notes that osteoarthritis (OA) is one of the most common types of arthritis. It is a chronic condition caused by cartilage breaking down, allowing bones to rub together.

This can cause pain, stiffness, and loss of movement. People with OA in the hip may also feel pain in the groin, buttocks, and inside the knee or thigh.

Treatment

Treatments for OA include:

  • exercise
  • weight loss
  • surgery

Learn more about how to treat OA of the hip here.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disease. It occurs when the immune system is not working properly and attacks the joints.

RA in the hip includes symptoms, such as stiffness and swelling in the hip, thigh, or groin area and pain. It usually affects both hips.

Treatment

Treatments for RA include:

  • pain and anti-inflammatory medications
  • hot and cold treatments
  • topical products like gels, creams, and patches
  • a balance of rest and exercise

Learn how to manage RA flare-ups here.

A doctor, orthopedic surgeon, or physiotherapist may perform tests or scans, including:

  • tests to check movement, such as the gait test or Patrick’s Faber test
  • blood tests to check for infection and autoimmune diseases
  • an X-ray
  • an MRI scan

Learn more about orthopedics here.

There are various things a person can do to improve hip pain while sitting. These include:

  • using a seat with back support
  • stretching regularly
  • wearing flat, comfortable shoes
  • adjusting the height of their seat
  • applying heat or ice to sore areas
  • massage therapy

A person can perform the following hip stretches to help relieve pain and stiff hips:

Double hip rotation

A person should perform the following steps:

  1. Lie flat on the back.
  2. Bend the knees and bring them toward the body until the feet are flat on the floor.
  3. Rotate the knees to the right, lowering them toward the floor, then rotate their head to face the left while keeping the shoulders against the floor.
  4. Hold this position for 20–30 seconds.
  5. Slowly return both the head and knees to the starting position.
  6. Repeat on the opposite side.

Hip extension

A person should perform the following steps:

  1. Stand upright with the legs straight and the feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Extend both arms out in front and hold on to something for support.
  3. Keeping the left leg straight, lift the right leg backward without bending the knee.
  4. Lift the leg as far as possible without causing discomfort, then clench the buttock tightly and hold the position for 5 seconds.
  5. Repeat this stretch 5–10 times on each leg.

Hip and lower back stretch

A person should perform the following steps:

  1. Lie flat on the back and extend the legs.
  2. Look down toward the chest while keeping the neck on the floor.
  3. Bend both knees, clasping the hands around them, and bring the knees toward the shoulders.
  4. Breathe deeply and bring the knees closer while breathing out.
  5. Breathing normally, hold the position for 20–30 seconds.

The outlook varies depending on the cause of the hip pain. If a person is healing from an injury or damage to the hip area, the pain may disappear once the injury has healed.

If the pain is due to a chronic illness, it may last weeks, months, or years, and a person will have to manage it long-term.

In many cases, a person can improve hip pain when sitting by improving their posture, changing where and how they sit, and stretching and exercising at home.

Flare-ups caused by chronic conditions may not respond to these measures. These types of hip pain may require medical intervention, such as prescription medication, physiotherapy, or surgery.

A person should contact a doctor if hip pain while sitting is severe, does not go away, or gets worse.

They should also see a doctor if they are experiencing other symptoms of autoimmune diseases, such as pain in other joints.

If home remedies and correcting posture and seating arrangements don’t work to alleviate pain, a person may need medical attention.

If a person has had a fall or injured their hip or is having difficulty with everyday activities, such as walking upstairs, they should also see a doctor.

Many people experience hip pain while sitting. A variety of factors, including poor posture, improper seating, sitting for prolonged periods, or sitting in a way that puts pressure on the hips, may cause hip pain. Potential medical causes include autoimmune conditions and pinched nerves.

Home remedies and stretching can often improve hip pain while sitting, but hip pain due to a chronic illness may require physiotherapy or surgery.

A person should contact a doctor if their pain is severe, does not go away, or does not respond to home remedies.

Reference Article

RELATED POST