The most common symptoms of hip osteoarthritis are hip pain and decreased range of motion. Hip osteoarthritis often progresses gradually and many sufferers may try to ignore the signs until daily activities are affected.

Below is a list of common signs and symptoms of hip osteoarthritis. Recognizing and treating symptoms early can slow or eliminate the progression of osteoarthritis symptoms.

Pain in the hip, groin, back or thigh. Aching and stiffness in the groin, buttock or thigh can be a sign of hip osteoarthritis. Many people experience pain in the side or back of the hip when the hip bears weight. This pain may radiate down the thigh and even cause pain in the knee. Discomfort is usually most noticeable when getting out of bed in the morning and may flare up when participating in sports or other intense activities. Pain may subside with rest.

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Decreased range of motion. Normally, the hip’s ball-and-socket construction allows for a wide range of motion. Hip osteoarthritis may make it particularly difficult to spread the legs apart, extend the leg straight back, or to point toes inward and move the entire leg in that direction (internal rotation).

Chronic hip swelling. The joint can become irritated and swell as a result of the friction between the femur and pelvic bone. Swelling can cause pain and weaken the surrounding muscles that support the hip joint.

Hip crunching or popping. A crunching or popping feeling can be a sign of bone-on-bone friction caused by hip osteoarthritis14. One hip osteoarthritis patient described the sensation of corn flakes in his hip joint when he got up in the morning or began exercise.

Limping or lurching. Hip osteoarthritis can make walking painful. To minimize the pain, people may limp or lurch forward—often unconsciously—to avoid putting pressure on the affected hip.

Loss of hip joint function. Daily activities that involve bending, such as putting on socks and shoes, can be very difficult or impossible for someone with hip osteoarthritis. Getting in and out of chairs or cars may also pose a challenge.

Inactivity makes it worse. Hips can become stiff after sleeping or sitting for a long period of time. People with hip osteoarthritis often find stiffness and pain are most noticeable when they try to get out of bed in the morning or out of a chair after a long period of sitting.

Hip osteoarthritis pain usually develops gradually, over months or years. Sudden hip pain is likely caused by a trauma or another condition, not osteoarthritis. If the hip feels hot or the skin around the joint turns red, then infection (if it is only one hip) or rheumatoid arthritis may be the cause.


  1. Ronald J. Allen, Victoria Anne Brander, M.D., S. David Stulberg, M.D., "Arthritis if the Hip & Knee: The Active Person’s Guide to Taking Charge," Peachtree Publishers, Ltd., Atlanta, GA, p25, 1998.