According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, athletes in certain sports are particularly prone to hip injury, especially those involved in track or other running sports, soccer and dancing. Generally, most hip pain occurring in women in their 30s will be the result of muscle, tendon or bursa irritation and will respond favorably to activity modification, ice and stretching.
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A bursa is a sac-like structure filled with a thick gel that is usually found between a joint and its overlying tissue. A bursa functions to reduce friction as the muscles and tendons repeatedly cross over a joint. In the hip joint, irritation of the bursa is known as trochanteric bursitis. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, hip bursitis can affect anyone, but is more common in women and middle-aged or elderly people and is less common in younger people and in men. Hip bursitis can be caused by an activity such as running, or can develop without any apparent provocation. Pain from bursitis is typically worse at night, especially when lying on the involved side.
Iliotibial Band Syndrome
From the top of the hip crest to below the outside of the knee lies a wide band of connective tissue called the iliotibial band. When this tissue becomes irritated from activities that involve repetitive flexing and extending, it is known as iliotibial band syndrome. This syndrome often affects women who run or cycle long distances and results in pain along the outside of the hip or the knee. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, after passing over the greater trochanter, the iliotibial band inserts at the knee on the lateral aspect of the tibia, so patients with iliotibial band syndrome may also complain of lateral knee pain.
The large sciatic nerve exits the spine and travels through the sciatic groove and under the piriformis muscle. The piriformis muscle can become tight and press against the sciatic nerve, resulting in radiating pain to the hip and buttock known as piriformis syndrome. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, females are more commonly affected by piriformis syndrome. Symptoms usually consist of a dull ache in the hip, buttock and occasionally down the back of the leg. It is often difficult to distinguish piriformis syndrome from irritation of the sciatic nerve by a herniated disc and a physician may request diagnostic testing before making a diagnosis.