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Outer Hip Pain

Outer Hip Pain: What Should You Know?

Here’s a comprehensive guide about outer hip pain.

Lateral or outer hip pain is an ailment in which pain occurs on the outside of the hip. Also mentioned as greater trochanteric pain syndrome (gtps), outer hip pain can travel downwards to your outer thigh. This condition can arise abruptly due to overuse or gradually progress with time. In general, this pain may ease out in as long as six weeks. It is more prevalent in women and gets worse by: 

  • Lying down on the affected side at night
  • Long episodes of standing or walking 

This condition can occur because of tearing or damage to the tendons of a few minor buttock muscles. The common causes of deterioration of the tendon include larger hip muscles’ over-activity or compression. You can overcome this issue by strengthening the muscles of the hip and thigh together with a core consolidation plan.

Read on to know the details.

What muscle is on the outer hip?

The general perception is that ‘hips’ are circumference beneath the waist. However, the actual location of the hip joint is at the meeting point of the femur (thigh bone) and the pelvis. It is the point where you hinge to sit or lift your knee to your trunk. 

You can feel the greater trochanter (the small bony prominence) at the topmost point of the femur by standing up and running your hand over the lateral side of your upper thigh. This is a significant place of attachment of some hip muscles and can be the central point of lateral hip pain.

The muscles of the buttock that give it its shape are known as gluteal muscles. These include the gluteus maximus, present on the outer side of the hip. Beneath it lies the gluteus medius, followed by gluteus minimus.

The function of these muscles is crucial for the movement of the hip joint in specific directions as well as for stabilizing the pelvis during use. Gluteal tendons attach the gluteus minimus and medius to the greater trochanter.

These muscles are attached by tendons (tissues of attachment) to the hip bone, and an unhealthy or damaged gluteal tendon can be a cause of diagnosing GTPS and lateral hip pain. In the case of a damaged tendon, the condition is referred to as gluteal tendinopathy. Gluteal tendinopathy is the most prevailing cause of GTPS.

Causes of outer hip pain

A glitch in any tissue around the hip joint can lead to lateral hip pain. These include the following.

  • muscles
  • tendons
  • a fluid-filled sac called bursa for cushioning of several bones
  • cartilage

Any of these tissues can become worn out or inflamed, causing pain—the overuse injuries like bursitis and tendonitis.

Commonly hip pain, including the outer hip, occurs more commonly in sportspeople. While athletes taking part in running, dancing, and soccer are at risk for hip injuries, it can affect individuals of all ages and stress levels.

The common causes are:


Bursae play a significant role in reducing the friction between a bone and the soft tissues overlying it. In bursitis, the bursa is affected by irritation and inflammation. 

Likewise, trochanteric bursitis is the condition in which the bursa over the circumference of the hip bone becomes inflamed. This results in radiating pain over the outer thigh.


A tendon and a ligament are the two vital components of a joint. While ligaments join bone with another bone, tendons connect bone with a muscle. In tendonitis, inflammation of a tendon occurs, and a tear in the tendon called gluteus medius can be the cause of outer hip pain. 

Some other causes

There are several other causative factors of outer hip pain. These include:

  • Osteoarthritis the most prevalent kind of arthritis is osteoarthritis and is more common in females. 
  • Obesity: more weight in the body means more pressure Over the lower half joints. Fat cells in the obese body will enhance inflammation, leading to hip pain and even promoting osteoarthritis.
  • Femoroacetabular impingement (FAI):  in this condition, the hip joint cannot make its full range of motion 
  • Injury: A troublesome injury due to an accident or fall can cause outer hip pain
  • Referred back pain: A lower back problem can lead to pain in the outer hip and posterior side of the leg.

Diagnosis of Outer Hip Pain

The healthcare provider will do a thorough physical examination to find out the actual cause of hip pain. 

A few diagnostic tests might also be suggested. These can include:

  • X-rays
  • CT scan
  • MRI scan
  • blood tests (to see if you have an infection or rheumatoid arthritis)


Outer hip pain treatment options generally include: 

  • physical therapy  
  • pain relief strategies 

Pain management is done in the following ways.

  • NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), e.g., ibuprofen
  • Post physical activity ice application for pain relief 
  • Staying physically active
  • Heat application
  • Corticosteroid injections
  • Massaging the affected side

A few examples of strengthening programs as well as stretching exercises are as follows.

  • Marching is done by bringing your knees towards your chest without flexing the thigh at more than a 90-degree angle. Iliotibial band (IT band) attaches to the top of your chest. It can help with bending as well as flexing at the knee.
  • Hip abduction: lift the left leg sideways by holding a chair but do not rotate at the hip. Lower your leg slowly after holding for a few seconds
  • Hip extension: swing your leg backwards by holding on to a chair without bending at the knee. 
  • Heel to bottom: bend your leg behind your body, and bring your heel towards your buttock.
  • Bridge: lie on your back, then lift your pelvis by bending your knees and placing your feet flat on the ground.

In case of sharp or progressive pain in the hip joint, you should stop these exercises.

Medical advice should be sought. A physiotherapist can help you with his advice about the right exercises and stretches according to the actual cause of pain. 

Altering your posture may also help. Practice the right posture to find pain relief. This can be done by changing how you sit, stand, and sleep. In case of pain in the hip at night, sleep on one side or on your back to help eliminate discomfort.

Do not sit in an uncomfortable position, e.g., cross-legged, to avoid further deterioration of your condition and worsening buttock pain.

While it is rare, some people may need surgery in severe cases.

A lady with outer hip pain

Frequently Asked Questions:

How do you fix outer hip pain?

RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) is the most common method of fixing heat pain. You can also treat your outer hip pain by:

  • Exercising (especially walking)
  • Applying ice or heat to the affected area to reduce the joint inflammation
  • Using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication
  • physical therapy to help stretch the iliotibial band
  • cortisone injections
  • surgery

How do I know if my hip pain is serious?

If your joint appears to be deformed, causing intense pain and sudden swelling, or causing an inability to move your hip or leg, you should be concerned about your hip. If you cannot bear any weight on your affected hip and have the signs of infection like redness, chills, or fever, your hip pain is severe, and you should seek immediate medical treatment.

What muscle is on the outside of the hip?

Three muscles outside your hip play critical roles in moving the hip joint in possible directions and work together to stabilize the pelvis during certain activities. These muscles are:

  • gluteus maximus (the outermost muscle)
  • gluteus medius (middle one)
  • gluteus minimus (the deepest muscle)

Why does my outer hip hurt after sitting?

You may feel pain in your hip, upper thigh, or outer buttock after prolonged sitting due to aching of the underlying muscles, tendons, or ligaments. You may also feel pain or discomfort in your hips while sitting because of health issues like bone weakness.

Is walking good for hip pain?

Walking has always been an overall good exercise for people of all age groups. You will definitely benefit from regular walking if you’ve pain in your hips as regular walking helps your body keep the muscles around your hip flexible and strong.

A regular or pure walk can help you boost your endurance and allows your body to make some minor adaptations that help you strengthen your hips, knees, or feet. So, no matter the cause of your outer hip pain, walking might be a good remedy for you.

What is the one-leg test for hip pain?

One leg test for hip pain is an important test to determine the level of pain in your hip. While performing one leg test, you are instructed to flex your one leg at the hip and knee as if you’re taking a marching step. Then you are asked to arch your back into extension while holding that position. So, the imitation of pain on the bearing leg is a positive finding of hip pain, and then the test is repeated on the contralateral side.


  1. Preston G. Lateral Hip Pain Patient Information and Exercises. East Lancashire Hospital. NHS. https://www.elht.nhs.uk/ Outer hip pain: Causes, treatment, and outlook. Coelho S. Aug 2020. Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com
  2. Frothingham S. Causes and Treatment Options for Outer Hip Pain. healthline. Nov, 2018. https://www.healthline.com/health

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