If you’ve ever experienced stabbing sharp pain in your hip, then you know how difficult it can make your daily routine tasks. Hip pain can leave you in distress and affect your quality of life. 

Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Research shows about 30 to 40 percent of adults who play sports suffer from hip pain. At age 60 and above, about 15 percent of people experience hip pain. The pain could vary from person to person depending upon the underlying factors. 

In this article, we’ll break down some root causes of hip pain along with solutions to alleviate your nagging pain.

Causes for Shooting Pain in Hip

It's highly important to evaluate the root cause of hip pain for effective treatment. If you have pain in your hip right now, one of these could be the reason for your agonizing pain.

NOTE: The information listed in this article is for educational purposes only. Please consult a medical professional to get a proper diagnosis.

1. Femoroacetabular Impingement (FAI)

FAI, also known as hip impingement, is a common cause of hip pain in people of all age groups. It is an anomalous growth of bones forming the hip joint, resulting in abnormal bone contact at the joint, thus limiting the range of motion. 

The femur (thigh bone) forms the ball portion that fits into the acetabulum (the socket portion). The condition is most present at birth, but it can develop at any stage of life.

2. Hip Bursitis

Bursitis is the inflammation of bursae which are fluid-filled sacs that reduce the friction between the hip joint and soft tissues and also provide cushioning to the joint. 

It may be caused by injury or infection. Overuse of hip joints, such as longer activities like climbing and running, puts repeated pressure on the hip, thus causing inflammation.

The pain from bursitis may get worse while changing position or posture.

3. Labral Tear

An injury to the labrum, a cartilage that surrounds the acetabulum (socket portion of the hip joint). These tears can occur over time due to prolonged strain or other hip joint conditions. 

Sudden trauma, accident, or injury can also cause labral tears. This type of injury usually causes a joint locking or clicking sensation.

4. Hip Tendonitis

Hip tendonitis is inflammation of the tendon (fibrous connective tissues that connect muscles to bones) that attaches the iliopsoas muscle to the upper thigh and aids in hip flexion. 

Excessive physical activity, such as running, swimming, and repetitive movements, can cause tendon inflammation. Athletes are more likely to develop tendonitis, and sports injuries and exhaustion can also cause this inflammation.

5. Hip Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is the degeneration of cartilage, especially in weight-bearing joints like the hip or knee. The cartilage in these joints gets thinner, causing structural changes in the joint. 

The degeneration of cartilage may result in pain and stiffness, reducing mobility. Aging and family history may be some of the reasons for osteoarthritis.

6. Torn Abductor

The gluteus medius and gluteus minimus form a major group of muscles in the outside hip region. They aid in the abduction movement of legs away from the body. 

Tears in these muscles or their associated tendons can cause pain and tenderness. They can also make it difficult to perform routine chores and move legs sideways. Sudden injury or excessive repetitive strain can cause tears.

7. Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia may be characterized by pain, limping, and reduced mobility. It occurs when the acetabulum (socket) is not deep enough to provide support and stability to the joint. 

In other words, the socket is too shallow to support the femur head. One suffering from hip dysplasia can experience difficulty doing routine chores and activities.

8. Psoas Syndrome

Psoas syndrome involves the tightening or irritation of the psoas muscle, which connects the lower back to the hip joint. Psoas dysfunction can occur due to overloading or exhaustion of the psoas muscle. 

This muscle flexes the hip joint, so tension in this muscle puts pressure on hip joints, triggering pain in the hips, groin, and lower back, and pain radiating down the leg. 

Athletes are more likely to develop this condition due to repetitive strain and overload.

9. Sciatica

Sciatica is the compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve, which can cause numbness, pain, or a tingling sensation in the buttock or down the back of the leg. Prolonged sitting can aggravate the sensation. 

10. Hip Fracture

Hip fracture is one of the most severe conditions whose prevalence increases with age as bones tend to lose density. Excruciating pain in the hip and groin region, along with bruising, swelling, and inability to walk, are common symptoms. 

Sudden traumas, car crashes, falls, and osteoporosis can cause hip fractures.

Now that we’ve discussed the most common 10 causes of hip pain, let’s discuss the scenarios in which people commonly experience hip pain.

Shooting Pain in the Hip when Walking

The pain in the hip while walking may range from a dull, localized ache to sharp, stabbing pain radiating toward the leg and groin. The sensation varies depending on the underlying cause. 

Like any pain, it is important to find the core reason. If you feel hip pain near the surface, it may be because you have an issue with tendons, ligaments, or muscles. 

If pain worsens while walking for an extended period of time and feels deep and achy, joint or bony structures may be involved.

Shooting Pain in the Hip when Running

Pain in the hip while running may feel like a sharp, stabbing, sudden, excruciating pain that is difficult to bear. It may hinder your running or cause you to stop altogether. The pain may radiate to the lower leg and groin region. 

Bursitis, stress fractures, arthritis, and bruising are likely causes of hip pain while running. Muscle tears and strains can also worsen the pain.

Shooting Pain in the Hip with Lower Back Pain

Pain in this case, may vary from a dull ache to sharp, intense, radiating pain that persists in both areas. 

If the hip and lower back are painful, sciatica or psoas syndrome is likely. Herniated discs or muscle strains can also cause pain in the lower back and hip joints. Changes in position or posture may aggravate the pain.

Shooting Pain in the Hip while Sitting

Similarly, if you feel pain while sitting, hip bursitis, muscle strain, or osteoarthritis could be the underlying causes. 

Prolonged sitting and maintaining the same posture for hours can intensify this pain. Sitting for longer periods may place pressure on the hip joint and can cause complications like tendonitis.

Treatment for Shooting Pain in the Hip

After reading all the necessary information about the causes of hip pain and the situations in which people generally experience it, it is time to move toward treating it. 

NOTE: The information listed in this article is for educational purposes only. Please consult a medical professional to get a proper treatment plan.

Quick At-Home Treatment

While not necessarily a treatment for the root cause of hip pain, the RICE method can help lessen pain at home. By RICE, we don’t mean the delicious rice that we all eat; it's a mnemonic of four approaches to treatment that you can opt for at home.

Rest: Take a break from activities that are aggravating your pain like cycling, running, swimming, etc.

Ice: Icing the affected area for 10 to 15 minutes can work wonders. Never apply ice directly on your skin as it can cause ice burn, therefore, always wrap it in a clean cloth while using.

Compression: Compression can reduce the swelling and warmth in the affected area. It aids the venous and lymphatic systems in performing better, which speeds up the process of reducing swelling, redness, and warmth. However, for the hip, this may be difficult without specialized equipment.

Elevation: Elevating the lower body above the heart level by using pillows or furniture can reduce the swelling on the hip joint. 

When To See a Doctor for Hip Pain

If the pain in your hip persists and doesn’t go away or is a result of a traumatic injury, you should seek medical assistance as soon as possible. 

Properly identifying the core problem is the first step in treating any condition. The treatment method is determined by the doctor or health care provider based on the underlying factor causing pain. 

Depending on the underlying cause of your pain, your doctor can prescribe medication, physical therapy, or surgery.

Medication for Shooting Hip Pain 

Medication such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can lessen pain and inflammation. These include ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen. They can help with your pain temporarily but are not permanent solutions and should not be used for an extended period without doctor instructions.

Surgical Treatments for Hip Pain

This should be the last option to deal with your hip pain. In most cases, hip pain can be managed with physical therapy and proper rest. 

Physical Therapy for Hip Pain

Physical therapy not only helps relieve pain but also improves stability and balance by stretching, strengthening, and mobilizing your surrounding muscles, helping you cope with the pain or eliminate it entirely.

Physical Therapy also manages your pain without putting you in trouble of going through costly surgeries and pre and post-surgery protocols. It often has fewer risks and complications associated as well. 

Exercises to Help with Shooting Pain in the Hip

Below are some exercises you can try to alleviate hip pain. Please feel them out. If you experience increased pain while doing these exercises, stop and seek help from a licensed healthcare professional. As always, it’s best to talk to a physician or physical therapist before starting any exercises, especially if the pain is severe.

Prone Hip Extension With The Knee Bent

  • Start by lying on your stomach with your head resting on your hands. Bend one knee and lift your thigh off the ground, focusing on engaging your gluteal muscles. Hold this position for 3-5 sec before returning to the starting position.
  • You should feel your gluteal muscles working to aid in hip extension.
  • Avoid lifting your leg so high that your hips rotate off the ground. Also, ensure the movement comes from hip extension to prevent arching your back. Perform a smaller range of motion if necessary.

Bridge March With Arms Pointing To The Ceiling

  • Begin by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Extend your arms over your chest, palms together. Press into the ground with your feet and lift your hips as high as possible. While keeping your hips elevated, lift one knee toward your chest and hold for a few seconds. Alternate lifting each knee, marching one at a time.
  • You should feel your core and hip muscles engaging.
  • While in the bridge position, ensure your hips remain parallel and level with the ground.

Tall Kneeling Hip Hinge With Band Resistance

  • Start in a tall kneeling position with both knees on the ground. Begin by posteriorly tucking your pelvis, as if you're tucking a tail between your legs. While maintaining this tuck, tightly squeeze your glutes and core and drive your hips forward into extension. You should feel a stretch in the front of your hips.
  • Option 1: Use a superband, step inside of it, and position it around your waist. 
  • Option 2: Use a superband, thread it between your legs, and hold it with your arms. In both variations, resist the band's pull to assist with performing a hip hinge movement.
  • As you push your hips forward, you should feel your glutes working hard and a stretch in the front of your hips. This sensation is a sign that you're performing the exercise correctly.
  • Avoid overarching your lower back.

Half Kneeling Hip Opener

  • Start in a half-kneeling position with the left foot planted on the floor and pointing diagonally. Your right knee is positioned on the ground directly under your right hip. Gently shift your body to the side of the planted foot to stretch both groin muscles. Adjust the angle as needed to find the best stretch for your body. If necessary, you can use a weight to intensify the stretch. Perform at least 8-10 reps with a 3-5 sec hold at the bottom of the stretch and switch sides after that.
  • You should feel a stretch in the groin of both the front and back legs.
  • Maintain an upright torso throughout the exercise.

Incline Adductor Side Plank

  • Set up an elevated surface to lean on. The height determines the plank's difficulty—the lower the surface, the more challenging it will be. Place your elbow on the surface and align your feet, hips, and shoulders. Lift your bottom leg off the ground and hold the plank using your top leg and core muscles.
  • You should feel your inner thigh muscles on the top leg and your core engaging.
  • Ensure your hips don't drop, and keep everything aligned.


Like all parts of the body, the underlying factors responsible for pain must be addressed and treated efficiently for long-term health.

Our physical therapists at Plyogenix can help you identify the root cause of your hip pain and improve your symptoms. 

We specialize in sports physical therapy and helping you get back to 100% so you can return to the activities you love. 

So, if you have pain and are unsure what to do next, book a call with us! You can talk with a Doctor of Physical Therapy for free.


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