Thigh and hip pain that feels worse in the morning and slowly decreases with activity over the course of the day typically indicates the presence of an inflammatory condition such as osteoarthritis, septic arthritis, gout or ankylosing spondylitis. Inflammatory conditions typically respond to anti-inflammatory medication and exercise modification, according to John W. O’Kane, M.D. Speak to your physician if you begin to experience the pain in your thigh and hip every morning.
Osteoarthritis is the most widespread form of arthritis that affects individuals older than the age 50 years and tends to affect the weight-bearing joints such as the hip. Osteoarthritis is characterized by a deep aching pain in the hip joint and surrounding ligaments and tendons, so you may also feel it in the upper thigh. Osteoarthritis causes stiffness and reduced range of motion, and these symptoms feel worse in the morning. Typically, anti-inflammatory medication combined with low-impact, non-weight bearing activities will alleviate some of the discomfort; however osteoarthritis is a chronic condition. Some cases require a hip replacement surgery to maintain an active lifestyle.
Septic arthritis can affect anyone at any age and is caused by a bacterial infection that enters the hip joint. Sometimes known as infectious arthritis, septic arthritis has numerous causes, including Lyme disease, gonorrhea and Staphylococcus infection.The pain from septic arthritis feels more intense in the morning, and the condition renders your affected hip, thigh and leg completely immobile, according to Jatin M. Vyas, M.D., Ph.D. of Harvard Medical School. Other symptoms include warmth and redness around the joint, swelling, fever and chills. See your doctor immediately if these symptoms apply to your case.
Gout is a joint inflammation caused by a buildup of uric acid. It is classed as a form of arthritis and can affect any joint. Typically, gout manifests as an acute attack that feels worse in the morning. Gout may be caused by excessive alcohol intake, excess weight, diabetes, high blood pressure or an excessive intake of certain foods, including salmon and organ meats. If your thigh and hip pain begins at night, feels worse when you wake up and is accompanied by a reddening of the area around the hip joint and a feeling of warmth in the joint, seek medical treatment immediately.
Ankylosing spondylitis is an inflammatory condition also classed as a form of arthritis. About one third of individuals affected by ankylosing spondylitis experience symptoms in the hip, thigh and groin. In addition to pain in the morning, ankylosing spondylitis causes stiffness and pain that radiates down the whole leg, and often these symptoms are alleviated through exercise. If these symptoms apply, seek medical attention right away.
- American Family Physician: Anterior Hip Pain; John W. O'Kane, M.D.; October 1999
- Merck Manuals Online Medical Library: Roy D. Altman, M.D.; February 2008
- InteliHealth: Infectious Arthritis; June 2008
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: Septic ArthritisJatin M. Vyas, M.D., Ph.D.; May 2009
- Family Doctor.org: Gout; J.R. Pittman, Pharm.D. and M.H. Bross, M.D.; March 2010
- Sports Injury Clinic: Ankylosing Spondylitis; Tom Dekkers, M.Sc.