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Hip Pain

How does the hip work?

The hip is a very stable and strong joint. It’s known as a ball-and-socket joint. This is because the top of the femur bone is shaped like a ball. This ‘ball’ sits inside a hollow socket in your pelvis.

The hip joint is held together by muscles which are secured to the bones by tendons. These muscles and tendons form a capsule around the joint and support its movements. Inside the capsule is the synovium, which lubricates the joint with synovial fluid and keeps the cartilage healthy. The cartilage sits between the bones of your hip joint to allow smooth movement of the joint and reduces any impact when you walk or move your hip.


Common causes of hip pain?

If you’ve overdone it while exercising pain is usually caused by strained or inflamed soft tissues, such as tendons, and it often clears up within a few days to weeks.

As you get older, pain in your hip can flare up now and again, often for no reason. If you have a problem with your hip joint you may feel pain in the groin, down the front of the leg and in the knee. Sometimes knee pain is the only sign of a hip problem – this is called referred pain or radiated pain and is fairly common.

You may feel pain on the outside of your hip or in your buttock – though this can also be caused by problems with your lower back.

If you have previously had a total hip replacement or dynamic hip screw (metal plating for a hip fracture) and have developed
new or unusual hip pain several years after having the operation, please arrange an appointment to discuss with you GP.

If you have fallen

If you’ve fallen and injured your hip you should urgently call 111 who will triage if you need urgent care. Fractures around the hip are very common, particularly in elderly people with osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis makes bones less dense and fragile, so they break or fracture more easily.


How to ease hip pain yourself

It can take 4 to 6 weeks to recover fully from hip pain.


  • engage regularly with physical activity as pain levels allow  
  • move your hip gently for 10 to 20 seconds every hour when you are awake
  • use pain relief so you can keep moving - try painkillers like paracetamol and ibuprofen, and heat or cold packs

*Add exercises for hip*



  • do not completely rest- this can slow the healing process
  • do not do things that seem to make it worse
  • do not make up your own strenuous exercises


Referral to Occupational Health

If you have not seen improvement in your symptoms after following the advice above, you may require further assessment. You should refer to Occupational Health if:
  • the pain doesn't improve after 3-4 weeks
  • you have tried gentle exercises
  • you are finding it difficult to manage work
  • you feel you require support and guidance of a physiotherapist


We provide a confidential service to all staff and deliver specialist occupational health advice to management.


Opening Times: Monday - Friday 09.00 - 17.00

Occupational Health Service
1st Floor Denbigh House
University Hospital of Wales
Heath Park
CF14 4XW
Tel: 029 2074 3264 (43264 from an internal phone)