Managing hip pain in older adults

Hip pain is a common concern among older adults, reducing mobility and making it difficult to carry out everyday tasks. Fortunately, physiotherapy in Twickenham can help manage hip pain, support tissue healing and help you get back to doing what you love as quickly as possible. Here, we’ll explore common causes of hip pain and how you can ease your symptoms.

Please bear in mind that although the information and tips in this blog are helpful when managing hip pain in older adults, for specific advice and guidance, please contact a physiotherapist for a professional assessment.

What is hip pain?

Very commonly, patients point to the side of their lower back and describe it as hip pain. This is most likely a lower back problem. Further confusing the issue is that hip joint problems are almost always felt in the groin or front of the hip and down the front of the thigh. A clear diagnosis is, therefore, important so that you can get treatment for the correct part of your body.

3 causes of hip pain in older adults


This is a common type of arthritis that causes joints to become painful and stiff due to wear and tear. Often felt as pain in the groin and front of thigh not around the outside of the hip.  The intensity of symptoms varies from person to person. Mild symptoms can often be managed by exercising regularly including specific physio exercises and losing weight if you are overweight. More severe OA will need hip replacement surgery followed by physiotherapy.

Bursitis (often actually gluteal tendonopathy)

Your bursae — fluid-filled sacs in and around your joints — can be a source of hip pain when they become inflamed. Your hip joint contains two main bursae that can become inflamed, causing the hip area that you would lie on if you were on your side to become tender.

However, it is rare that bursae are the main source of pain. Most patients referred to us with “trochanteric bursitis” actually have a problem with the gluteal tendons which run very close to the bursa and result in this classic pain on the outside of your hip. This is usually a form of tendinopathy. 

Rheumatoid arthritis

This type of arthritis is autoimmune, which means your immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue in your joints. It is a systemic illness that can affect many parts of the body including the organs. It is a less common cause of hip pain compared with osteoarthritis and bursitis.

Symptoms include stiffness and pain. Additionally, flare-ups can occur when your condition deteriorates and symptoms worsen. You must be managed by a consultant rheumatologist as well as engage in physiotherapy.

Other symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include weakness, fever, loss of appetite, fatigue and weight loss.

How can physiotherapy help?

Physiotherapy can help you recover greater movement of your hip joints and reduce hip pain using a range of hands-on techniques (e.g. mobilisation, soft tissue massage and muscle energy technique). Through daily physiotherapy exercises, under the guidance of a physiotherapist, you can often improve your mobility and reduce pain. 

Get in touch

Our physiotherapists are here to help you manage your hip pain. To learn more about our physiotherapy treatments and how we can help, call us on 020 8898 1231 to speak to one of our experienced staff.