What Causes Hip Pain that Radiates Down the Leg?

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Aman Priya Khanna
Written by Rajath R Prabhu, last updated on 1 December 2022| min read
What Causes Hip Pain that Radiates Down the Leg?

Quick Summary

Hip pain that radiates down the leg is a common problem that can be caused by a variety of factors.

  • Some of the most common causes of hip pain that radiates down the leg include:
  • Arthritis
  • Bursitis
  • Trochanteric bursitis
  • Sciatica
  • Lumbar radiculopathy

If you are experiencing hip pain that radiates down the leg, it is important to see a doctor to determine the underlying cause and get appropriate treatment.

Ever experienced a sudden excruciating hip pain that radiated down the leg to the foot and wondered how it happened and what it is that you are experiencing? Well, you are not alone.

  1. The hip pain that radiates down the leg is widespread, and many people experience it.
  2. We often ignore it, thinking that the pain might be due to sore muscles from sleeping in a bad position or may be due to rigorous exercising.
  3. Hip pain that radiates down the leg must be acknowledged and not be ignored by thinking it will subside on its own.
  4. This is because the hip pain radiating down the leg to the foot might be due to several underlying causes.
  5. Therefore, it is essential to address it at the earliest and get it treated before it worsens or causes irreversible damage to the body.

Keep reading to learn more about what causes hip pain that radiates down the leg and its treatment methods.

Causes of Hip Pain that Radiates Down the Leg

Hip pain radiating down the leg can affect an individual's everyday activities. Before getting the treatment for hip pain radiating down the knee or foot done, diagnosing what is causing the pain is essential. 

Various reasons might be causing this hip pain radiating down the leg to the foot. Some of these common causes include:


  1. Sciatica is one of the most common reasons behind hip pain that radiates down the leg. Any injury, inflammation, or irritation caused to the sciatic nerve can cause this excruciating hip pain that radiates down the leg to the foot.
  2. Sciatica usually occurs due to a slipped disc (herniated disc). It may also occur due to bone overgrowth, where the bone adds excessive pressure on the sciatic nerve.

The symptoms of sciatica include the following:

  1. Hip pain radiating down the leg to the knee
  2. Pain on one side (right side hip with leg pain)
  3. A numbing or weak feeling in the legs 
  4. Pain that worsens while coughing or sneezing 
  5. Pain due to prolonged sitting 
  6. Pricking like needles or tingling sensations in the legs

Hip Bursitis

  1. Hip bursitis is otherwise known as Trochanteric bursitis. It occurs due to inflammation of the bursa (a fluid-filled sac) present on the outer edge of the hip. The bursa is situated in a superficial position and close to large tendons, so it can get inflamed.
  2. This condition can cause pain in the outer hip region.
  3. There might be several reasons behind the inflammation of the bursa, like repetitive micro injuries or trauma, a sudden fall that directly compresses the bursa, etc. The symptoms of Trochanteric bursitis include the following:
  4. Pain in the outer hip area
  5. Pain near the hip region while lying down or upon pressing the area
  6. Swelling and redness
  7. Hip pain worsens while doing basic activities like walking or climbing up or down the stairs

Hip Arthritis

Another prevalent cause of hip pain is hip arthritis. Hip arthritis occurs when the cartilage present in the hip joint is damaged or wears down. Hip arthritis can worsen when the proper care and treatment are not provided on time. Hip arthritis can be caused due to osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or psoriatic arthritis. The symptoms of hip arthritis include the following:

  1. Hip joint stiffness
  2. Pain in the groin region and buttocks
  3. Decreased range of motion
  4. A clicking sound upon hip movement

Hip Bone Fracture

A fracture in the hip bone due to an accident or fall or severe sports injury may be another reason for the hip pain. A broken hip is painful and, in most cases, requires surgical treatment, like hip replacement surgery and post-surgery physiotherapy, to treat the condition. The type of surgery to be performed depends on the patient's overall health. The symptoms of a hip bone fracture include the following:

  1. Hip pain that radiates down the leg
  2. Inability to stand or walk 
  3. Pain in the groin region and buttocks
  4. One leg appears shorter than the other 
  5. Swelling and redness around the site of fracture 
  6. Sharp, stabbing hip pain 

Piriformis Syndrome

The piriformis muscle is a flat, band-like narrow muscle near the buttocks and runs from the lower portion of the spine (sacrum) to the top of the thigh. On the other hand, the sciatic nerve passes alongside or through the piriformis muscle and extends to the back of the leg.  

When the piriformis muscle causes the compression of the sciatic nerve, it results in pain and inflammation. Although piriformis syndrome and sciatica both involve the effect on the sciatic nerve, they are not the same. The symptoms of piriformis syndrome usually include the following:

  1. Dull pain in the buttock
  2. Hip pain (mainly behind the thigh)
  3. Increased threshold of pain as a result of sitting for a long time
  4. Decrease in the hip joint motion range
  5. Shooting or worsening pain on doing simple activities like walking or climbing steps


Pregnancy can also cause hip pain radiating down the leg to the knee. During pregnancy, as the baby grows, so does the uterus. This adds too much pressure on the sciatic nerve and ultimately leads to pain and inflammation. Although sciatica can happen at any point during pregnancy, it is most commonly seen during the third trimester. The symptoms of sciatic nerve pain during pregnancy include the following, 

  1. Hip pain
  2. Pain in the lower back and buttocks, 
  3. Weak bladder control
  4. Pain that becomes bad upon sneezing or coughing, 
  5. Numbness or prickly or tingling feeling in the leg 


Obesity is also a reason that causes hip pain radiating down the leg to the knee. Certain studies have shown that being overweight or obese can cause hip pain. Besides, obesity also increases the risk of developing osteoarthritis, which can cause hip pain radiating from leg to knee.

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Treatment for Hip Pain Radiating Down the Leg

The treatment for hip pain that radiates down the leg depends upon what causes hip pain. The doctor will provide the best treatment option depending on the condition diagnosed and the patient's overall health. Some common treatment methods to reduce hip pain involve:

  1. Over-the-counter or prescription medications
  2. Corticosteroid injections
  3. Home remedies like hot or cold compression
  4. Ayurvedic treatment
  5. Physiotherapy
  6. Occupational therapy 
  7. Surgical procedures such as arthroscopy

Lifestyle Changes

Lifestyle changes also play a vital role in helping reduce the hip pain that radiates down the leg. Some of the lifestyle changes that one can undertake include

  1. Avoid putting a lot of strain on the hip, but do not stop moving it completely. 
  2. Try some gentle stretching exercises to ease the pain.
  3. Use hot or cold compression for mild hip pain. 
  4. Additionally, losing weight can help alleviate hip pain by reducing pressure and preventing the risk of developing osteoarthritis. 
  5. Do not use any medication for hip pain if you are pregnant unless prescribed by the doctor.

When to See a Doctor?

  1. Any pain that persists for longer than usual needs medical attention. When hip pain that radiates down the leg becomes excruciating and lasts longer than expected, it is time to see a doctor.
  2. It is essential to establish what is causing the hip pain. Where there is a possibility that it might be due to an injury, there are also chances of it turning out to be something serious. 
  3. A proper diagnosis will help the doctor find out the reason for the hip pain that radiates down the leg and help formulate an appropriate treatment plan.
  4. In certain instances, like hip arthritis, if the condition is left untreated, it can worsen with time and may even cause damage that cannot be reversed.


Hip pain that radiates down the leg is widespread and can happen to anyone. However, diagnosing the cause behind the hip pain with the help of the right diagnosis is very important as it will help the doctor to provide the right treatment option for the hip pain radiating down the leg to the knee.

At HexaHealth, our team of highly qualified doctors is always there to help our patients with accurate diagnoses of their conditions and believes in providing them with the best treatment and advice. We at HexaHealth ensure that all our patients are highly satisfied with our services, as they are our top priority.

Frequently Asked Questions

Various causes might be responsible for hip pain that radiates down the leg in women. These include sciatica, hip fracture, hip arthritis, hip bursitis or pregnancy. 

Normal hip pain may usually focus more on the hip and the groin, and it will seldom cause pain that moves down the leg. On the other hand, sciatica causes hip pain that radiates down the leg to the knee, or hip pain radiates down the leg to the foot. 

You can relieve nerve pain in the hip by taking adequate rest, applying hot or cold compression, doing mild and gentle stretches or taking pain relievers. However, if the nerve pain persists, seek medical help from a doctor. 

When there is sudden hip pain radiating from leg to foot, and if it persists, it might mean that you have a hip condition like sciatica.

You must know that your hip pain is severe and needs to be attended by a doctor if there is excruciating hip pain that radiates down the leg to the foot of the hip joint and looks deformed if you are not able to move your hip or leg, if there is excessive swelling that is worrying you out or if you have fever or chills which might be an indication of an infection.

Although the symptoms of hip arthritis and hip bursitis are similar, they are entirely different when it comes to what is causing the pain. In hip arthritis, the pain occurs when the cartilage in the hip joint is damaged or worn down. In hip bursitis, pain occurs due to inflammation of the bursa (a fluid-filled sac) located on the outer edge of the hip.

You can try home remedies like hot or cold compression and gentle stretching to get rid of sciatica pain in your hip. If the pain is severe, you can also take painkillers. But, if the pain continues to bother you, the best way to get rid of it is by seeing a doctor. Your doctor will devise the right treatment plan for you after assessing your condition.  

Piriformis syndrome is often mistaken for sciatica. This is because the symptoms of sciatica and piriformis syndrome are similar. Where piriformis syndrome is caused due to sciatica nerve compression by the piriformis muscle, sciatica usually occurs due to a slipped disc (herniated disc).

When left untreated, sciatica can cause further damage to the nerve, sometimes even permanent. This damage worsens sciatica symptoms and may cause extreme numbness in the knees and legs, becoming permanent over time. 

Muscle relaxers that work for sciatica are to be prescribed to you by your doctor. However, a muscle relaxer works well to relax the muscles in sciatica.
Medications prescribed by the doctor, like anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants, corticosteroids, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, or surgery, are successful treatment methods for sciatica. Depending upon your overall condition, your doctor will prescribe the best treatment to you.

In some cases, the sciatica pain may go away with some basic treatments like cold or hot compression and NSAIDs and with time. However, for sciatica to go away independently, proper care is required. 

A pinched nerve in the hip will cause a dull or sharp ache, pain radiating down the leg to the knee,  pain while walking or climbing, and a tingling or prickling sensation in the leg. 

The fastest way to relieve hip pain is by applying hot or cold compression, using pain relievers, or treating it by a doctor. 

To relieve hip pain, ensure you're sleeping in a comfortable position while maintaining the correct posture. You can sleep on your back or the side that isn't paining. Start using mattresses and pillows of good quality. You can also use a pillow and place it between your knees to align the hips properly. 

Some signs and symptoms indicating the need for a hip replacement include severe pain even after using proper medications and home remedies, problems in sleeping, severe pain while performing activities like walking or inability to walk, and inability to stand after being seated for a while. 

If you require hip replacement surgery, you will likely feel severe pain in the hip and groin region. You will also experience hip pain radiating down the leg to the knee or the foot.

Yes, it is essential to keep walking with hip pain, especially the one associated with hip arthritis, as it will help in pain management in the hips. However, do not overdo it or put a lot of strain on your hip. Consult your doctor if it hurts a lot in the hip while walking. 

The one-leg test for hip pain can be performed to assess the condition of the hip. To perform this, start by standing in the correct posture. Now, gently lift one leg to balance and stand on one leg. Try standing on one leg for about a minute. If you find it challenging to balance, you can take support from a door frame or wall. If you find it difficult to stand on one leg with or without support, you must get it checked by a doctor immediately. 

A hip bursitis test is to be carried out by a doctor. To confirm hip bursitis, your doctor will perform tests like a detailed physical examination, a blood test to examine the fluid taken from the affected bursa, and imaging tests like bone scans, X-rays, or MRI scans (magnetic resonance imaging scans). 

Updated on : 1 December 2022

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational and learning purposes only. It doesn't cover every medical condition and might not be relevant to your personal situation. This information isn't medical advice, isn't meant for diagnosing any condition, and shouldn't replace talking to a certified medical or healthcare professional.


Dr. Aman Priya Khanna

Dr. Aman Priya Khanna

MBBS, DNB General Surgery, Fellowship in Minimal Access Surgery, FIAGES

12 Years Experience

Dr Aman Priya Khanna is a well-known General Surgeon, Proctologist and Bariatric Surgeon currently associated with HealthFort Clinic, Health First Multispecialty Clinic in Delhi. He has 12 years of experience in General Surgery and worke...View More


Rajath R Prabhu

Rajath R Prabhu

MSc. Clinical Research I PG Diploma in Public Health Services Management

3 Years Experience

His work in medical content writing and proofreading is noteworthy. He has also contributed immensely to public health research and has authored four scientific manuscripts in international journals. He was assoc...View More

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