Lateral hip pain

A common area to feel hip pain is over the bony point on the outer aspect of your upper thigh. This is referred to as lateral hip pain.This can happen both in the young adult or in middle to later life as we age. It is more common in women than men.

Factors that may play a role in the development of lateral hip pain include:

  • A sudden increase or change in activity levels.
  • Menopausal changes in women aged 40 to 60.
  • An inactive lifestyle, causing weakness in the buttock muscles.
  • Being overweight
  • A direct fall onto the outer hip
  • Sometimes this can come on after hip replacement surgery

Commonly when you have this kind of pain it occurs on its own without any groin (frontal) or buttock pain.

Historically there are several names that have, at times, been used to describe this such as:

  • Trochanteric bursitis
  • Greater trochanteric pain syndrome
  • Gluteal tendinopathy (Gluteus medius and minimus tendons)
  • External snapping hip (when it is accompanied by a clicking sensation)
  • Iliotibial band syndrome (which can also affect the knee)

What all these terms have in common is that they describe problems of the soft tissues (muscles, tendons, and ligaments) outside of your hip joint that can cause pain felt on side of your upper thigh.

Lateral hip pain tends to imply that your muscles are weak or imbalanced around your hip.

General measures to help treat lateral hip pain:

To deal with lateral hip pain, reduce any activity that you know makes your symptoms worse.

For example avoid:

  • standing with all your weight on one leg for long periods of time
  • crossing your legs when sitting
  • sitting in deep or low chairs
  • lying on the affected side for long periods
  • stretches aimed at the lateral aspect of the hip as these can increase symptoms.

Simple activity modification, over the counter pain relief and time will often help lateral hip pain to settle. Check with your Pharmacist or GP if you are unsure whether over the counter pain relief is suitable for you. Once settled, you can gradually start to build up the use of the area again.

There are some instances, however, where it is best to seek medical attention about your lateral hip pain.

If your lateral hip pain is so severe that you cannot bear weight through it then attend A&E for a review of your hip, even if you cannot recall an injury that caused this.

If you can bear weight reasonably well then good, simple advice is to try and stay as mobile and active as your pain allows you to.

But see a GP if:

  • you have lateral hip pain and a fever or rash
  • your lateral hip pain came on suddenly and you have sickle cell anaemia
  • you have pain is in both hips and other joints as well

If your GP is happy that there is no significant problem with your hip they may offer you physiotherapy.

That physiotherapy is likely to involve advice and exercises to help speed up your recovery.

As implied by the list of names above different soft tissue structures associated with your hip may be contributing to your lateral hip pain.

Basic principles of management and treatment, however, are similar across the most common causes of lateral hip pain and applying these principles to manage your lateral hip pain is the simple first step to recovery.

Watch the videos at the bottom of this page for advice on exercises that can help with lateral hip pain.

If your lateral hip pain persists despite these measures then speak to your GP.

Exercise videos


Posterior pelvic tilt


Side lying exercises