Physiotherapy for Hip Pain: The Essential Guide

Hip pain, a common ailment causing discomfort and reduced mobility, can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life.

It’s crucial to have a proper understanding of this condition and the range of treatments available to manage it effectively.

Physiotherapy is one such approach that has proven beneficial in tackling hip pain.

This article offers an in-depth, scientifically-backed guide on how physiotherapy helps manage hip pain, providing valuable insights for patients and caregivers alike.

Understanding the Condition

Hip pain is a common issue affecting a substantial portion of the population, particularly those aged over 45 years.

In the UK, nearly 20% of people aged over 50 years have severe disabling knee or hip pain, underscoring its prevalence and impact on daily living.

Hip pain can arise from a multitude of sources, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, hip fractures, bursitis, tendinitis, and hip labral tears, among others.

The nature of pain may vary, ranging from a dull ache to sharp, intense pain, and its location may be felt in the groin, buttocks, or thigh.

The Role of Physiotherapy in Hip Pain Management

Physiotherapy, a science-based profession, employs a holistic health approach.

It utilises a variety of treatment modalities to alleviate pain, improve mobility, and enhance the overall quality of life.

In the context of hip pain, physiotherapy techniques often focus on increasing joint mobility, reducing inflammation, and strengthening the muscles supporting the hip joint.

Research evidence supports the efficacy of physiotherapy in managing hip pain.

A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine demonstrated that physiotherapy interventions significantly reduced pain levels and improved function in individuals suffering from hip osteoarthritis.

Hip Pain Treatment

Physiotherapy for hip pain typically combines manual therapy, exercise prescription, and patient education.

Manual therapy

This involves hands-on techniques aimed at improving joint mobility and reducing pain. Techniques might include joint mobilisations, where the physiotherapist uses specific movements to increase joint flexibility, and soft tissue techniques, where massage and other methods are used to relieve muscle tension.

Exercise prescription

Exercise is a cornerstone of physiotherapy. Strengthening, stretching, and balance exercises are often prescribed to improve mobility and stability. The specific exercises recommended will be tailored to the individual’s condition and needs.

Patient Education

This involves teaching patients about their condition and providing strategies to manage pain and prevent future problems. Education might cover topics such as safe ways to perform daily activities, the importance of maintaining a healthy weight, and strategies to protect the hip joint.


Electrotherapy devices, such as transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) units or therapeutic ultrasound machines, can be used to alleviate pain and promote healing in the hip area. TENS units deliver mild electrical currents to the skin, while therapeutic ultrasound uses sound waves to generate heat and stimulate deep tissues.

Dry Needling

This technique involves inserting fine needles into the muscles around the hip joint, targeting myofascial trigger points. It can help release muscle tension, improve blood flow, and reduce pain.

Kinesiology Taping

The application of kinesiology tape to the hip area can provide support, reduce pain, and facilitate proper movement. This elastic, adhesive tape can help stabilise the joint and enhance proprioception, guiding the body’s movements.

Aquatic therapy

Aquatic therapy, also known as hydrotherapy, involves performing exercises in water, usually a warm pool. The buoyancy of water reduces the load on the hip joint, while the water resistance helps strengthen the muscles around the hip. Aquatic therapy can be particularly beneficial for individuals with significant pain or reduced weight-bearing capacity.

Posture and Gait Retraining

An important aspect of managing hip pain is addressing any underlying postural or gait issues that may contribute to the pain. Your physiotherapist will assess your posture and walking patterns, then provide tailored advice and exercises to correct any imbalances.

Heat and Cold Therapy

Applying heat packs or cold packs to the hip area can help manage pain and inflammation. Heat therapy can relax the muscles and improve blood flow, while cold therapy can help reduce swelling and numb the pain. Your physiotherapist can guide you on the proper use of these modalities.

Ergonomic Advice

Physiotherapists can provide guidance on how to adapt your home, workplace, or daily activities to reduce stress on the hip joint and prevent further pain or injury.

Remember that the specific techniques and approaches used in your treatment will depend on your condition, needs, and the recommendations of your physiotherapist.

Step-by-Step Guide to Physiotherapy Exercises for Hip Pain

Here are some physiotherapy exercises specifically designed to alleviate hip pain:

  1. Hip Flexion: Stand upright, hold onto a support if necessary. Lift your knee towards your chest as high as comfortably possible. Lower it down slowly. Repeat 10 times and switch legs.
  2. Hip Extension: While standing, extend one leg straight behind you, keeping your knee straight. Keep your back straight and avoid leaning forward. Repeat 10 times and switch legs.
  3. Side-Lying Hip Abduction: Lie on your unaffected side with your legs straight. Lift your affected leg upwards without rotating your hip and slowly lower it back down. Repeat 10 times.
  4. Seated Hip External Rotation: While seated, place your ankle on your opposite knee, creating a figure-four shape. Gently press down on your raised knee to increase the stretch. Hold for 20-30 seconds, then switch legs.
  5. Bridges: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Lift your hips off the ground until your body forms a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. Hold for a few seconds, then slowly lower back down. Repeat 10 times.
  6. Clamshells: Lie on your side with your hips and knees bent at 45 degrees. Keeping your feet together, lift your top knee as high as you can without moving your pelvis. Hold for a moment, then slowly lower back down. Repeat 10 times on each side.
  7. Quadruped Hip Circles: On your hands and knees, lift one leg and draw circles in the air with your knee. Do 10 circles in each direction, then switch legs.

Please consult with your physiotherapist before attempting these exercises to ensure they are safe and suitable for your condition.

Benefits of Physiotherapy for Hip Pain

Physiotherapy offers numerous benefits for individuals suffering from hip pain. These include:

  • Pain reduction: Physiotherapy techniques like manual therapy and specific exercises can help reduce inflammation and muscle tension, leading to significant pain reduction.
  • Improved mobility: By increasing joint flexibility and strengthening the supporting muscles, physiotherapy can enhance your mobility and make daily tasks easier.
  • Increased strength: Regularly performing prescribed exercises can help improve muscle strength around the hip, providing better support for the joint and preventing further injuries.
  • Improved quality of life: By managing pain and improving mobility, physiotherapy can help you return to your regular activities, positively impacting your overall wellbeing and quality of life.
  • Education and prevention: A physiotherapist can educate you about safe ways to carry out daily activities, correct poor movement patterns, and provide advice on how to avoid future hip problems.

When to Seek Professional Help

Early intervention in hip pain is crucial to prevent further deterioration and complications. You should seek professional help in the following circumstances:

  1. Persistent pain: If your hip pain persists for several days despite rest and over-the-counter pain medication, it’s time to consult a professional.
  2. Severe pain: If your hip pain is severe, causing significant discomfort and limiting your mobility, you should seek immediate medical attention.
  3. Impact on daily activities: If your hip pain is preventing you from performing your daily activities or affecting your quality of life, it’s essential to get professional help.
  4. Signs of serious issues: If your hip pain is accompanied by other worrying symptoms such as unexplained weight loss, fever, or severe night pain, you should seek immediate medical advice.


Hip pain can significantly impact one’s quality of life, but there are effective treatments available.

Physiotherapy offers a science-backed, holistic approach to managing hip pain, focusing on pain reduction, improved mobility, and prevention of future problems.

By understanding the role of physiotherapy and engaging in prescribed exercises, you can alleviate your hip pain and regain your quality of life.

It’s essential to seek professional help if your hip pain persists or impacts your daily activities. Early intervention can prevent further complications and put you on the path to recovery.


What does physiotherapy involve for hip pain?

Physiotherapy for hip pain involves a combination of manual therapy, exercise prescription, and patient education. The exact techniques and exercises will depend on your specific condition and needs.

How often should I see a physiotherapist for hip pain?

The frequency of physiotherapy sessions will depend on the severity of your hip pain and your therapist’s recommendation. It could range from several times a week to once every few weeks.

Can I do physiotherapy exercises at home?

Yes, many physiotherapy exercises can be done at home. However, it’s essential to learn these exercises under the supervision of a qualified physiotherapist to ensure they’re done correctly and safely.

How long does it take for physiotherapy to help with hip pain?

The length of time it takes to see improvement with physiotherapy can vary depending on the cause and severity of your hip pain, as well as your commitment to the treatment plan. Some people may see improvement within a few weeks, while others may need several months of treatment.

Can physiotherapy completely cure hip pain?

Physiotherapy can significantly reduce hip pain and improve function in many cases. However, the outcome will depend on the cause of the hip pain. In some cases, additional treatments

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