Hip Pain After Sitting

Top 5 Reasons for Experiencing Hip Pain after Sitting

Many of us have jobs that require that we sit for long periods of time either in front of a computer or on the telephone, and one drawback of this type of inactivity is that we can experience hip pain after sitting for extended periods.  This discomfort should not be shrugged off as simply stiffness, especially if it occurs frequently as there might be underlying causes for the pain.


About the hips

The hip joint carries great weight in supporting the human body, literally speaking.  A joint of the ball and socket variety, the hip is capable of a number of ranges of movement; flexion, extension, adduction, abduction, medial rotation and lateral rotation. These allow us to walk forward, backwards and sideways, as well as to step up, kick forward and backwards, to perform ballet moves and even curtsy, if we so wish.

Joints that have such great range of motion also have greater likelihood for developing painful conditions.  Certain conditions, such as prolonged sitting, can enhance the risk for these conditions.  There are some disorders are more common than others, with the top five being bursitis, arthritis, sciatica, hip injury and aseptic necrosis.


Ball and socket joints in particular require lubrication to ensure that all moveable parts glide smoothly against one another.  A fluid filled sac called “bursa” exists in such joints to cut back on the amount of friction that occurs between the tissues of the body.  When the bursa becomes inflamed due to trauma of soft tissue or a strain, a condition called bursitis develops.  Bursitis that occurs on the upper area of the buttocks is known as ischial bursitis.  Many people know it by the nickname tailor’s bottom, as the pain it causes can be felt after sitting for long periods on hard surfaces.


Cartilage that covers the end of the femur (the ball) as well as within the socket of the pelvic bones protects these important elements of the joint, but when the cartilage breaks down and dissolves due to simple wear and tear or inflammation, arthritis can result.  Any one of several types of arthritis can be at the root of the problem, which becomes evident when stiffness and hip pain after sitting or resting is felt.


When pain radiates from the buttock down the leg, sciatica is likely the culprit.  Although it is more of a symptom than an actual cause, it is often given sole credit for the discomfort.  The sciatica nerve runs down through a muscle in the buttock that is used in a variety of the ranges of motion, including outward rotation, medial rotation and abductor, and can become trapped along the pathway.  Also, discomfort can be caused by certain trigger points in the soft tissue of the hip.  The pain felt may arise from poor posture, exertion, bending, standing or sitting, depending on the individual and the specific cause of the pain.


Hip injury

Because of the stress placed on the hip joint and because of the range of motion, the hip commonly experiences injury.  Muscle strain and fractures are frequent complaints, and may not even be caused by an injury directly to the hip but rather to some other part of the body, known as “referred” pain.  An injury to the feet, ankles or back can cause the hip to move unnaturally as compensation for the injury overworks muscles and soft tissues.  A fracture to the hip can be the result of a fall or direct blow to the hip.  Pain after sitting, sleeping or resting is felt as the muscles and tissues tighten through nonuse.

Avascular necrosis

Less frequently, the flow of blood may be disrupted on its way to the femur; resulting in the death of bone tissue and the development of avascular necrosis.  Initial stages of this disease may produce no symptoms, but will eventually cause joint pain and osteoarthritis.

In a society with increased technology and decreased activity, more and more people find that they spend the majority of each day sitting.  This places them at greater risk for developing one of these many disorders that can cause people to experience hip pain after sitting for hours at a time, something that many people may shrug off as simple stiffness.  When it becomes a continuous occurrence, these aches and pains should be checked to make sure they really aren’t something more serious.