Physiotherapy for Lateral Hip Pain

physiotherapy for lateral hip pain

Hip injuries come with diagnostic and therapeutic challenges. In the athletic population, hip injuries have received much attention even though they are not as common as injuries to the knee or shoulder. Athletes, particularly those participating in running, soccer, and dancing are at risk for a hip injury.
Lateral hip pain has been labeled as trochanteric bursitis. But it is often given to what is really gluteus medius tendinopathy. A research paper said that tendinopathy of the gluteus medius was a common finding on MRI in patients with lateral hip pain.

Lateral Hip Pain

Lateral hip pain is also referred to as gluteus medius tendinopathy, sometimes it is also referred to as trochanteric bursitis. Like other tendon problems, the hip external rotator tendons can fail (tendinosis), causing lateral hip pain.

Gluteal tendinopathy is the most common type of hip tendon injury. The gluteal tendons are tough fibrous structures that attach the gluteal muscle to the hip bone. A tendon injury may seem to happen suddenly, but usually it is led by several tiny tears to the tendon that has occurred over time.


Research has shown that the pain is most likely a result of irritation, degeneration or tearing of the hip muscle tendons where they attach to the hip bone. Bursitis can also cause lateral hip pain. However, research finds that swelling of the bursa on the side of the hip only occurs in around 10% of the people with lateral hip pain. Compression usually causes tendon damage as the tightness of the large hip muscle tendons or overactivity of the larger hip muscles push the underlying smaller tendons.

Standing for long periods, with one hip pushed out to the side, poor sitting or standing position, crossing legs while sitting and sleeping on your side with your knees bent up to a 90-degree angle can cause lateral hip pain. Pain can also be caused by walking or running on surfaces that slope sideways or always running on the same direction around a track. Wearing improper footwear can also cause this problem.


People with lateral hip pain usually have pain on the outside of their hip, as opposed to patients with hip arthritis, where pain is typically near the groin. You may experience pain getting out of the car to that side and eventually even aching in upper thigh. Sometimes, you may also feel pain when you roll over the bed on the affected side. There is fatigue when walking for long periods. Most often, there is no “cause” or acute trauma they have suffered before having the pain.


Treatment for lateral hip pain may include pain medications, ice massage, preventive measures, and specific exercises. Some say that cortisone injection can be helpful, however, some claim that the injection may not help as it may promote further matrix breakdown. Surgery may also be required only if a major tear is present. However, this case is rare.  Your doctor may advise you to avoid low sitting, crossing legs, and standing with more weight on one leg.

How Physiotherapy Helps

To maximise the effects of treatment, it is best to perform exercises designed by a physiotherapist. Your physiotherapist may give you exercises to improve your pelvic stability. The mainstay of treatment is a series of progressive strengthening exercises to build up the gluteus medius and other pelvic stabiliser muscles. The exercise programme starts under the supervision of a physiotherapist, and then you can continue them at home.

Are you affected with lateral hip pain? Ask help from a Perth physiotherapist at i Physio Perth. Call us at 9444 8729 today!