Many people assume that hip problems are reserved for the elderly. But with an uptick in the sedentary lifestyle, even young adults are increasingly facing hip-related issues. In fact, experts are seeing a rise in hip replacement surgeries not only in the elderly, but also in young active patients — some as young as 18 years old.

There are more than 300 joints in the human body. Along with the knee joint, the hip joint is one of the largest weight-bearing joints impacting all aspects of our mobility. Your hip is a ball and socket joint that bears your body’s weight while allowing you to walk, run, and jump simultaneously.

Hip pain in older people is usually caused by arthritis, lower back problems or other wear-related concerns. Meanwhile, the causes of hip problems in younger men and women often vary greatly. This means that these conditions bring about varied symptoms and require different treatments.

Read on to learn more about the symptoms, causes, diagnosis and treatment of hip pain in young adults.

Common Hip Injuries and Conditions in Young Adults

When young people experience hip pain, it is often a symptom of an injury or underlying disorder.

Some conditions that cause hip pain can be treated with rest, ice, and physical therapy. Other conditions may require surgery. Whatever the cause, early treatment can have a long-term positive effect on the health and mobility of a young person’s hip. Often, it can prevent the condition from becoming more severe.

The most common hip injuries and conditions seen in young adults are:

  • Labral Tears

A ring of cartilage runs along the edge of your hip joint socket called the labrum. Its primary function is to absorb shock and hold the femoral head securely within the acetabulum, allowing you to move without pain or problems. So, when the labrum tears, the hip joint loses stability and lubrication. Eventually, this can cause deep, sharp pain in the hip or groin, a locking sensation in the hip joint, feelings of instability, weakness and reduced motion. 

  • Hip Impingement

This is a condition in which either the ball or socket portion of the hip joint is malformed. Hip movements then cause the femoral head and acetabulum to rub together painfully, eventually damaging the labrum that cushions the joint. Medically referred to as femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) in which there is abnormal contact and friction between the ball and socket of the hip, which results in damage to the cartilage and labrum. Hip impingement is a major factor contributing to the early onset of arthritis in those under 40 years of age. Many people do not even realize they have hip impingement in its early phases until it becomes more severe and painful and requires treatment. 

  • Adult Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a disorder that results in an incorrectly shaped hip socket. Often, the hip socket does not fully cover the head of the femur (thigh bone), creating an unstable hip. Hip dysplasia can damage the cartilage lining the joint, and it can also hurt the soft cartilage (labrum) that rims the socket portion of the hip joint. This is called a hip labral tear.

This condition is relatively common and is usually present at birth. In fact, doctors treat about 1 out of 100 infants for hip dysplasia. Doctors will check your baby for signs of hip dysplasia shortly after birth and during well-baby visits. If hip dysplasia is diagnosed in early infancy, a soft brace can usually correct the problem.

However, sometimes the symptoms do not appear until later in life, and the disease goes undiagnosed until adulthood. Left untreated, it can lead to painful hip problems in adults. It’s the leading cause of hip arthritis for people under 60.


Hip pain in young adults can be a debilitating condition that affects daily life activities. Common symptoms of hip pain in young adults include:

  • Hip pain may be felt in the groin, hip, thigh or buttocks 
  • Swelling and tenderness of the hip
  • Shooting, electric shock-like pain or numbness
  • Pain in the buttocks
  • A snapping sensation around the hip joint
  • Limited mobility and reduced range of motion
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Limping
  • Pain may worsen with activity and subside with rest

If these symptoms persist and start affecting your daily activities, consider having your case diagnosed and seek treatment. Understanding the causes of hip problems you are experiencing will help you get on the road to swift and effective recovery.


Hip pain may be caused by problems in the bones or cartilage of your hip, including: 

  • Hip fractures 
  • Infection in the bones or joints
  • Osteonecrosis of the hip (necrosis from loss of blood supply to the bone)
  • Arthritis — often felt in the front part of the thigh or groin
  • Labral tear of the hip
  • Femoral acetabular impingement 

Pain in or around the hip may also be caused by problems such as:

  • Bursitis 
  • Hamstring strain
  • Iliotibial band syndrome
  • Hip flexor strain
  • Hip impingement syndrome
  • Groin strain
  • Snapping hip syndrome 


Hip pain in young adults can be severe and disabling, affecting work, parenting and leisure activities. It can be difficult to differentiate between the different causes of intra-articular hip pain based on clinical assessment alone. A targeted history and examination can help ascertain whether a patient’s symptoms are likely coming from the hip joint itself or from elsewhere.

  • Examination

The doctor may have you stand to look for pelvic tilt, leg length discrepancy, or muscle wasting. This is generally followed by moving the hip through a full range of movement. Motion is not normally limited by hip dysplasia although pain or muscle tightness is often noticed when the leg is spread away from the body – hip abduction.

  • X-Ray Diagnosis

An x-ray can identify hip dysplasia by the shallow socket (acetabulum), and by displacement of the ball (femoral head) from the socket. X-rays can determine the severity of dysplasia, which helps to establish the need for surgery. There are several ways that the amount of dysplasia can be measured on x-rays.

X-rays also show whether hips are also displaced in an upward direction; this information is valuable because hips that are displaced upward usually wear out faster than hips that are not displaced upward.

An MRI may also be helpful to diagnose hip dysplasia and give the physician information on any damage to the cartilage and labrum.

  • Bilateral hip dysplasia in a young adult woman. Note that the sockets are shallow and do not contain the ball (femoral head)
  • Normal hips in an adult woman. Note that the sockets are deep and contain the ball almost completely

Early Treatment is Critical

A lot of people worry that hip pain means they are going to need joint replacement surgery. But the good news is, most types of hip pain can be treated much more conservatively. Physical therapy, over-the-counter pain medicines, rest, and other nonsurgical treatments are often adequate in relieving hip pain. However, some conditions may require more aggressive treatments, including surgery. In cases of severe hip pain or injury, a referral to a specialist may be necessary.

Surgical options for hip pain in young adults include hip arthroscopy, which is a minimally invasive procedure to repair or remove damaged tissue in the hip joint. In cases of severe hip damage, hip replacement surgery may be necessary to replace the damaged joint with a prosthetic joint.

With proper treatment, based on a doctor’s assessment, most cases of hip pain in young adults can be effectively managed through conservative measures, allowing for improved mobility and quality of life.

Contact Ventura Orthopedic Today

Hip pain is a common complaint that can have many causes, from arthritis to muscle strain. In some cases, these issues could be signs you might need a hip replacement, especially if you continue to experience pain and discomfort. 

For the past 40 years, millions of people have experienced relief from hip pain and arthritis and enjoyed restored mobility through total hip replacement. Hip replacement surgeries are surprisingly more routine than you may think and are performed on millions of patients worldwide each year. To diagnose your condition, an orthopedic surgeon will perform a thorough examination of your hip, analyze X-rays, and conduct physical tests. 

To learn more about the procedure or to schedule an appointment with one of our hip replacement specialists, call us at 800-698-1280.


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