What Does Hip Pain Radiating Down Leg to Knee Mean?

Hip Pain Radiating Down Leg to Knee

Hip pain that travels down to your knee can be distressing and leave you looking for answers and relief. There are a number of potential causes for the discomfort you are feeling. The hip joint is one of the largest ball-and-socket joints in the body and plays an essential part in supporting the body’s weight and enabling movement. Pain could be the result of a strain or injury to the muscles, tendons, or ligaments around your hip. Arthritis, or joint disease, may even be to blame. Sometimes radiating hip pain doesn’t originate in the hip area at all. In fact, it may be due to a pinched nerve or other type of nerve compression in the lower back. Here are five common causes of hip pain radiating down the leg to the knee:

Hip Labral Tear

A labral tear is an injury to the tissue holding the ball and socket together in your hip. A tear in the hip labrum can cause a number of symptoms, the most common of which is pain in the front of your hip or groin area, which may extend down to your knee.

This pain develops gradually, is typically dull, and worsens with walking, running, or pivoting. In addition to pain, a torn hip labrum may cause a reduced range of motion in your hip and a sensation of the hip locking up.

Hip Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that can cause pain and stiffness in the hip caused by excessive wear and tear on the joint over time. As you age, the cartilage that provides cushioning to your joints starts to deteriorate, resulting in bones rubbing against each other.

This friction can lead to osteoarthritic pain that radiates to the front of your thigh and can occasionally be felt in your knee.

Hip Bursitis

Hip bursitis is an inflammation of the bursa, a fluid-filled sac that cushions your hip joint. Although pain begins at the point of the hip, it may radiate down the outside of your thigh toward the knee. You may also notice some swelling and warmth in the affected area. The discomfort can range from severe to dull and achy.

Iliotibial Band Syndrome

Soreness on the outside of the knee can be caused by a condition known as iliotibial band syndrome. The iliotibial band is a thick, fibrous band of tissue that runs down the outside of your leg. It begins at the hip and extends to the shin bone’s outer side below the knee joint.

Iliotibial band syndrome can affect one or both of your knees. The discomfort is often described as a painful burning sensation traveling up the thigh to the hip. You may experience this type of pain during exercise, particularly when running. It is usually worse directly after your foot strikes the ground and may only appear near the end of your workout.

As the condition worsens, your pain may start earlier and last longer after you stop exercising.


Sciatica is caused by irritation of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is a large nerve running from your lower back through the hip and down the back of the leg. The discomfort may start in your hip and radiate from the back of your hip down to the front, back, or side of the legs.

Sciatica occurs most frequently when a herniated disk or excessive bone growth places pressure on a nerve. Compression, irritation, or injury to the sciatic nerve can lead to pain, numbness, or a tingling sensation.

What Should You Do If You Have Radiating Hip Pain?

If your hip pain is severe, persists for more than a few days, or worsens, you should see a doctor. To get an accurate diagnosis and create a pain relief plan, your doctor may complete a physical exam and tests such as blood work, X-rays, CT scans, or an MRI.

If you are unsure about the source of your radiating hip pain, don’t wait — call today!


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