Hip Injuries and Painful Hip Conditions

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Hip pain, soreness, or stiffness that affects your ability to perform daily activities needs an accurate diagnosis and prompt treatment. Duke’s hip specialists diagnose and treat hip conditions in older adults as well as young athletes. Depending on your needs, our goal is to prevent hip conditions from progressing or to alleviate disability that can result from years of wear and tear. In either case, we help you return to activity with minimal hip pain.

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When to See a Hip Specialist

Hip injuries, hip disorders, and hip arthritis can result in severe hip pain that can only be alleviated with professional medical attention. You may need to see a hip specialist if you:

  • Feel hip pain with weight-bearing, turning your leg, or sitting
  • Are unable to bear any weight on your leg
  • Are unable to move your leg or hip
  • Feel a “catching” sensation and pain when you move your hip 
  • Notice your hip joint looks deformed
  • Cannot be active or participate in activities you enjoy because of your hip pain

Visit Duke Orthopaedics Urgent Care
Our orthopaedic urgent care clinics throughout the Triangle provide expert care for hip pain and injuries and can refer you to a Duke orthopaedic specialist for follow-up care. These clinics are open seven days a week, and you don't need an appointment. Get fast service with no long waits and no unnecessary exposure to illness.

Our Orthopaedic Clinics

Duke orthopaedic clinics are located throughout the Triangle. In-person and virtual appointments are available.

What Causes Hip Pain

Many different conditions can lead to hip pain, including:

Can be caused by ordinary wear-and-tear or as a result of other conditions.

Avascular Necrosis
This is a condition in which a loss of blood supply leads to bone death. Left undiagnosed and untreated, avascular necrosis can cause bones to become fragile and collapse, leading to arthritis.

Structural Hip Disorders
Hip dysplasia and hip impingement (doctors call it femoroacetabular impingement, or FAI) may result from a deformity in the hip joint. These may be diagnosed in childhood or young adulthood but result in hip pain and, ultimately, arthritis in later years.

Sudden, Traumatic Hip Injuries
Younger athletes are more likely to suffer hip pain as a result of a blunt impact to their hips or because of a strain, inflammation, or rupture of the muscles, tendons (tendonitis), or joint lining (bursitis). Labral tears, which can result from the way the hip joint is formed, are becoming increasingly common in young athletes who play highly competitive sports.

Hip Fractures
Hip fractures can occur at any age. In young people, significant trauma is typically the cause. In older adults, bones can be more fragile and may fracture due to something as simple as a fall from a standing height.

Diagnosing and Treating Your Hip Pain

A physical examination of your hip to see how it moves and one or more of the following tests will help Duke hip specialists diagnose the cause of your hip pain.

  • X-rays, MRI, and CT scans: May be used to identify complex problems in your hip joint.
  • Arthrograms: Involve injecting dye in the hip joint to enhance MRI images; this better enables us to pinpoint your diagnosis.
  • Hip joint injections: Can be used to identify the source of your hip pain.

Nonsurgical Treatment Options 
Nonsurgical treatments may help you achieve pain relief. These can include:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medication
  • Cortisone injections
  • Bracing
  • Physical therapy
  • Weight management

If you have osteoarthritis of the hip, you may benefit from our Joint Health Program.

Hip Surgeries
Our specialists may recommend hip surgery if your hip pain or injury is severe, or if nonsurgical options haven’t been effective. Surgical approaches include:

Why Choose Duke

Our Team Approach to Your Care
You’ll work with a team of doctors, physician assistants, nurses, anesthesiologists, and physical therapists who devote themselves to your well-being. You’ll be treated compassionately and holistically, with the goal of returning to your optimal function and quality of life.

Sports Medicine Specialists
Our sports medicine experts are trained to care for sports-related injuries and specialize in treating athletes of all levels. They include primary care doctors, physiatrists, physical therapists, and orthopaedic surgeons. They can help you recover from a hip injury, prevent a new hip injury, and improve your sports performance.

Comprehensive Joint Health Program
Depending on your condition, your orthopaedic surgeon may recommend that you participate in our Joint Health program. This program is managed and coordinated by physical therapists who have additional training in the foundations of hip arthritis care. They will create a personalized, goal-based treatment program to help you improve your function, decrease your pain, and delay the need for hip replacement surgery.

Multiple Options for Hip Replacement Surgery
Our orthopaedic surgeons offer anterior (front), posterior (back), and direct lateral (side) approaches to hip replacement surgery, as well as surgically precise, computer-assisted hip replacement. Your surgeon will recommend the approach that’s best for you.

Advanced Care for Young Hips
We offer the full array of hip preservation treatments for younger patients with painful and debilitating hip conditions, including periacetabular osteotomy for hip dysplasia and hip arthroscopy for hip impingement and labral tears.

Leaders in Avascular Necrosis Treatment
Our experience with avascular necrosis treatment includes free vascularized fibular grafting, a surgical approach pioneered by Duke orthopaedic surgeons. We train doctors around the country to perform this procedure, which eases pain restores normal function. It may minimize your need for hip replacement surgery in the future.

Best Orthopaedic Hospital in North Carolina

Where you receive your care matters. Duke University Hospital is proud of our team and the exceptional care they provide. They are why our orthopaedics program is nationally ranked, and the highest-ranked program in North Carolina, according to U.S. News & World Report for 2023–2024.

This page was medically reviewed on 01/28/2022 by