If you’re a runner, avid walker, or young athlete, you may have experienced lateral hip pain. Lateral hip pain is pain located on the outside of the hip, and can be particularly debilitating when it starts to affect your sleep and activities of everyday life.

Lateral hip pain is characterised by tenderness around the bony outer part of the hip, called the greater trochanter. Weak gluteal muscles can leave people more susceptible to hip pain, while women over the age of 40 can be more commonly affected due to a wider angle between the femur and the pelvis.

Your hip pain may be aggravated by:

  • Prolonged standing
  • Walking
  • Running
  • Sleeping on the affected side

How can physio help?

Your physio will gather a full history including any changes to your activity levels, working postures and previous lower back or lower limb injuries in order to accurately identify your pain.  Two of the most common causes of lateral hip pain that we see in the clinic are gluteal tendinopathy & hip bursitis.

One of the main differences between tendinopathy and bursitis is the behaviour of pain with activity. Often with tendinopathies, pain occurs at the beginning of exercise but often EASES after warming up. The following morning is when you feel the effects of overloading the tendon.

Bursitis pain is usually similar to the pain experienced with tendinopathy, however the pain usually WORSENS with activity. Friction caused by the tendons moving over each other or their bony attachments can cause the bursa to increase in size, causing more pain and sometimes some swelling.

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The treatment for lateral hip pain will depend on the structures causing the pain. They will both comprise of the same principles:

Manual Therapy:

Massage, dry needling and other hands-on techniques can be effective in reducing pain levels in the early stages of gluteal tendinopathy & hip bursitis. Hands-on techniques will mainly aim to reduce tension and tightness in the gluteal muscles.


Depending on the activities or sports you play, your rehab may involve different exercises that gradually progress from low impact isometric exercises to more dynamic, sports specific exercises. Progressive strengthening to support the structures surrounding the tendon & bursa should be undertaken. This includes general hip stability work, balance retraining, alignment and coordination exercises.

Functional activities should also be looked at in detail to ensure that hip & lower back abnormalities or weakness, or knee and ankle dynamics are not causing any knock-on effects at the hip.

Avoiding Aggravation:

Avoiding aggravating activities for the lateral hip is also important for symptom resolution. Certain positions can cause compressive loads to accumulate in the area. Static postures, such as standing – “hanging on one hip” – into adduction, sitting with knees crossed, or completing functional tasks with excessive lateral hip tilt or shift can increase compression on the area.

If you are experiencing hip pain, don’t put up with it, call us to make an appointment with one of our experienced hip physiotherapists in Nedlands and start your recovery today.

To make an appointment, call our Claremont physio clinic on (08) 9384 1555 or our Nedlands physio clinic on (08) 6389 2947.

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