What Can Cause Hip Pain When Coughing?

If you experience hip pain when coughing, it can be great cause for concern. Any sort of pain accompanied by a cough has you wondering what is wrong with you internally, and the mind can wander to some dark places.

But, if your hip hurts when coughing, it may not be something as sinister as you think – and we’ll explain why in a minute. 

Nevertheless, you want to know what’s causing your discomfort and pain. And that’s what we are here to help you with today. 

Let’s start by talking about why your pain may get worse when coughing, and then we’ll discuss all potential causes.

Why Does Hip Pain Get Worse When Coughing?

Feeling pain in your hip when you cough might lead you to assume you have some sort of illness. But the reality is, your cough may be completely unrelated to your pain. 

Rather, the cough just exacerbates some issue or condition that is already present. Whether you develop a cold or simply choke on some water, coughing can definitely increase pain throughout your body momentarily. 

This can happen not just in your hips, but also in your entire core region – lower back, abdominal muscles, sides, chest, etc. Let’s take a detailed look at why exactly this is.

How Coughing Exacerbates Hip Pain Through Pressure

To understand this phenomenon, let’s explain what happens when you cough. Your body starts a cough by taking a deep breath in, and you generate positive pressure in your chest and abdomen. 

With this, your vocal cords expand to take this air in, and then expel it rapidly with a cough. This causes them to vibrate. When your vocal cords vibrate intensely when coughing, it puts pressure on nerves all throughout the body.

So if you have a disc issue near one of these nerves, the pain can reverberate into your hips. This isn’t only when you cough, either. This same sensation can occur when you sneeze, too.

But, it’s not just disc issues that can be exacerbated by coughing. Now, we’re ready to look at all the specific causes of worsened hip pain when coughing.

What Are The Underlying Causes Of Hip Pain When Coughing

Luckily, if your pain is noticeably worse when coughing, you can likely narrow down the underlying cause to just a few potential options.

Spinal Disc Problems

Some sort of disc issue – such as a slipped disc, a bulging disc, or just disc degeneration disease in general – can actually cause a radiating pain felt into the back, sides, and even the front of your hips.

Because of the vast network of nerves in this area, a bulging or herniated disc will press on these nerves, which can be connected to the hip flexors.

In some cases, the nerve being compressed could even be the sciatic nerve. This will cause a pain not just in your hips, but even down into your legs and feet.

Most often, disc conditions are treated with lifestyle changes, physical therapy, injections, and home remedies to manage pain and inflammation. In rare cases, surgery may be required.


Another very likely cause, especially if pain in your hips greatly intensifies with coughing, is a hernia.

A hernia is essentially a case where an organ pushes through an opening in the muscle or tissue that holds it in place. These occur in the stomach or intestines most commonly, which are close in proximity to the hips. This means that the pain can radiate into your hips, and depending on the specific location, the hernia may even be in your hip.

You can typically diagnose a hernia pretty easily, looking for the swelling on standing or coughing. You can usually visually see or physically touch the protuberance of the hernia. Nevertheless, a doctor visit may be required. Your options here are either surgery or to try and live with the hernia if pain isn’t intense.

Groin Issues

The groin is the inside region of your hip, and its an area notorious for causing pain and dysfunction. Two specific terms used to describe pain in this area are “Gilmore’s groin” or a “Sports Hernia”.

These terms describe a pain in the hip that aren’t specifically caused by anything other than overuse. But, couching can exacerbate the pain felt in this area of the hip.

Muscle Strains & Spasms

Another plausible explanation for hip pain when coughing is a strain or spasm in the muscles around your hip. This is especially true when the strain or spasm is in the hip flexors, psoas, groin, etc.

Managing Hip Pain When Coughing

Start by making an appointment with your doctor, or visit an ER if you have any of the warning signs of a more serious issue.

But, you can make yourself more comfortable and manage your hip pain when coughing in the meantime. If you are coughing a lot, it’s going to increase your pain levels and just leave you miserable. So start by managing your cough – take a throat lozenge as needed, drink something warm, etc.

Then, attack the cause of the pain. For the most part, you can alleviate any pain with the basics like anti inflammatories, ice and heat, rest, etc. As your healing progresses, start getting plenty of movement 

Photo of author

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.

Recommended Articles