What are the Most Common Causes of Hip and Knee Pain?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari
A person with a swollen knee.
A person with a swollen knee.

If hip and knee pain occurs at the same time, an injury may have caused damage to muscles, ligaments, tendons, or even the skin of those regions. Nerve damage may have also occurred, as some nerves run through both areas of the body, potentially leading to hip and knee pain. Arthritis is also a common cause of hip and knee pain, and while arthritis may not be limited to just these two areas, they are two of the more common joints that will develop arthritis. Regardless of the cause of the pain, a doctor's visit may be necessary to determine the exact cause and the best treatment options.

A man with knee pain.
A man with knee pain.

Arthritis occurs when the cartilage and ligaments within a joint begin to degrade, allowing excess movement in the joint and potentially allowing bone spurs or other deformities to develop. Inflammation is common in the joints affected by arthritis, and since the hips and knees are two common areas in which arthritis can develop, hip and knee pain is common among arthritis sufferers. Arthritis is a degenerative condition for which there is no cure, so pain management is the best treatment option. This may include taking medications, using topical ointments, exercising and stretching regularly, or in more severe cases, considering joint replacement surgery.

Sciatica can cause pain from the lower back down the hip and past the knee.
Sciatica can cause pain from the lower back down the hip and past the knee.

Hip and knee pain may be the result of nerve compression or other nerve damage as well. The sciatic nerve runs from the lower back through the hips and buttocks and down the back of each leg to the feet. If this nerve becomes compressed for any reason, pain may be felt anywhere along its length. A herniated disc in the spine, for example, can compress the nerve, causing shooting or sharp pain anywhere in the hips, buttocks, legs, or even in the lower back itself. A compressed nerve can lead to hip and knee pain, or it may cause numbness, tingling, a loss of motor control, or a loss of feeling in the limbs. If the latter two symptoms occur, one should see a doctor immediately.

Joint replacement surgery can alleviate the most severe cases of hip pain.
Joint replacement surgery can alleviate the most severe cases of hip pain.

Injuries to the muscles, tendons, or ligaments in the legs and lower back can also lead to hip and knee pain. Muscle strains occur when the tiny fibers that make up a muscle begin to tear, causing pain in the area of the injury. Overuse of the joints can also lead to pain, as the ligaments within the joint can become tired and the muscles within the legs can become tight.

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    • A person with a swollen knee.
      By: soupstock
      A person with a swollen knee.
    • A man with knee pain.
      By: Shakzu
      A man with knee pain.
    • Sciatica can cause pain from the lower back down the hip and past the knee.
      By: Maridav
      Sciatica can cause pain from the lower back down the hip and past the knee.
    • Joint replacement surgery can alleviate the most severe cases of hip pain.
      By: JASON WINTER
      Joint replacement surgery can alleviate the most severe cases of hip pain.