Causes & Treatment For Hip Pain When Sitting

We spend so much time in a seated position throughout the day, especially if you’re a student or working professional, that dealing with hip pain when sitting can derail your entire day.

As such, you cannot afford to just keep living with this condition. Investing in a stand up desk is one option, but that really doesn’t address the root cause of your discomfort. And it won’t help you in the long run.

In order to do that, we need to examine the anatomy of the hip joint and determine what components could be responsible for your nagging pain. 

Then, we’ll discuss all the common causes for this ailment, and explain how to go about actually diagnosing and treating your problem.

Quick Hip Anatomy

The hip joints are very complex parts of our bodies. There are all kinds of boney formations – of course, the femur and pelvis meet here – but there’s no shortage of tendons, ligaments, and muscle groups that meet here as well.

For example, the quadriceps and hip flexor muscle groups are common problem areas for athletes. 

But if you’re getting up there in age and notice hip pain when sitting, it is more likely an issue with degradation of the hip – such as tendinitis or arthritis. Let’s cover all the common causes of hip pain while sitting now.

What Causes Hip Pain When Sitting?

Just like the knees, the hips are very complex joints. As such, so many different things can go wrong – and they all more or less result in the same hip pain and discomfort.

Worry not, though, because we are going to cover the most common reasons you are experiencing this issue. 

We’ll start with some of the most common, easiest to fix problems and progress into more serious, debilitating conditions that will require a doctor’s visit or professional care.

Poor Posture or Sitting Position

How you sit or stand will contribute to how your body feels in the long term. If you slouch in your chair for extended periods of time, you’ll develop pain in your hips, from posterior tilt of the pelvis.

You should also consider how you sleep. If you sleep on your side, you need to place a pillow between your legs. This will take the pressure off your knees, and in turn, your hips.Take care of your posture, learn how to properly sit and sleep!

Also, how you sit matters. If you sit cross legged, for example, it can put tons of pressure on your hips. Ideally, you should sit flat on your buttocks with your legs out in front of you. A proper seating position will prevent unnecessary stress on your hips.

Another thing to watch for is sitting on uneven surfaces. Keeping your body balanced will do wonders for stopping and even preventing hip pain in the first place.

For example, if you sit in the same spot on your sofa, the cushion will become deformed and you won’t necessarily be sitting on an even surface. This will put excess pressure on one of your hips, which can contribute to pain in one of your hips.

Hip Arthritis Or Tendinitis

If you don’t suspect poor posture, overuse, or improper sitting position could be the reason for your discomfort, it very well could be hip arthritis or tendinitis.

Arthritis is more typical in the elderly, but hip tendinitis in particular can arise as the result of overuse in any age group. But the tricky part is tendinitis can also develop from underutilizing the hips. If you sit too long, inflammation of the tendons in your hip will develop.

Arthritis, on the other hand, rears its ugly head in a few different forms:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Psoriatic arthritis (most typically the type of arthritis that causes pain in the hip when sitting)
  • Anklyosing Spondylitis (a spinal condition that can cause secondary pain in the hips when sitting)

Hip Bursitis

Our hip joints feature bursa – which are small fluid-filled sacs. These act as shock absorbers, similar to our discs in our spine.

And just like the discs in our spine, these bursa can break down over time. This leads to them becoming swollen or damaged, and this inflammation can lead to serious stiffness, immobility, and pain in your hips when sitting.

Impingement In The Hip

Another really common cause of hip pain while sitting is an impingement in the joint. These are typically the most painful cause, as these are essentially pinched nerves. This sends an overwhelming number of pain signals to the brain.

Sometimes, the pinched nerve will not even be in the hip – but somewhere in the lower back. And in this case, the pain may radiate into your hips.

How To Diagnose Hip Pain When Sitting

Diagnosing your hip pain while sitting is as simple as visiting a doctor and letting them do their job. They’ll ask you questions to get some general information on what could cause your pain, and follow up with some physical tests of your mobility, pain levels, etc.

Then, if you are unable to get down to a specific cause, you will likely need to take some x-rays, MRI, and other tests.

Managing & Treating Hip Pain When Sitting

Of course, we recommend trying to improve your posture and lifestyle first to rule out any muscular imbalances or undue stress you’re putting on your hips yourself.

Then, you can try some of the basic pain management protocols. Start with reducing inflammation in the hips – such as following the RICE method – rest, ice, compression, and elevation.

After that, you can try strengthening your glutes and your core. These muscles are notoriously tough to strengthen, and weak glutes and core can certainly contribute to hip injuries or just plain old pain.

In some instances, you will need to seek out professional care options for your hip pain. The best choice is physical therapy, as this practice attacks every facet of your hip pain to provide relief. You may also seek out chiropractic care, acupuncture, massage, or other treatment choices.

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Stevie Compango, CNSC, CPT

Stevie is Certified Nutrition Specialist and Certified Personal Trainer for the past 10 years. He specializes in mobility and chronic pain management. His methods have helped thousands of clients improve the quality of their life through movement.

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