There are many possible causes of hip pain. Often what patients call hip pain isn't coming from the hip at all. Pain along the outside or back of the hip may not indicate a problem with the hip. True hip pain tends to cause pain along the inside of the leg near the groin.
There are many structures in and around the hip that can be causing painful symptoms. These include the joint itself, the rim of cartilage around the joint (called the labrum), the bursa, ligaments, muscles, and tendons.
Sometimes pain coming from the sacroiliac joint or low back can be referred to the hip. Most of the time, pain in the general region of the hip is caused by the soft tissue structures around the hip. There may be tightness, laxity, impingement, weakness, or poor alignment resulting in hip pain. Less often, fracture, infection, or tumor may be the source of symptoms.
A medical examination may be needed to find out exactly what's causing your symptoms. Your doctor will take a history, perform some standard tests, and possibly order lab work to look for inflammation or infection.
Based on the results of these tests, further work-up may be advised. A set of standard X-rays may be needed. MRIs or CT scans are reserved for cases where further detail is required to make the diagnosis.