Pain that is localized to one area of the body, like above the left hip in this case, usually indicates a problem in that area. The pain may be superficial, where it felt in the surface such as on or just under the skin above and/or around the left hip. At other times the pain may be felt deeper in this region, which usually indicates a problem with the organs lying in the area of the left hip.
Location and Organs at the Left Hip
Most of us refer to the uppermost part of the pelvic bone as the hip. This is the bony part that can be felt at the lower part of the abdomen. The hip is also sometimes referred to as the broadest part of the torso, although this may not correlate with the pelvic bone in obese people. Anatomically the hip lies much lower – to the side and in front of the buttocks, and where the femur articulates with the pelvic bone. The latter is also referred to as the hip joint.
However, in general terms the area above the hip is technically the lower abdomen. With regards to above the left hip, this is the region of the lower left quadrant (LLQ) of the abdomen. Since the uppermost part of the pelvic bone, lies within the abdominal quadrant, all organs that lies here entirely or in part need to be considered as possible causes of pain above the left hip. These organs include:
- Descending and sigmoid colon
- Left ureter
- Left ovary and fallopian tube (females)
The small intestine is the longest part of the digestive tract and is coiled within the abdominal cavity. A portion of the small intestine may therefore lie within the left lower quadrant (LLQ) of the abdomen.
Causes of Pain Above Left Hip
There are host of different conditions that may cause pain above the left hip. These conditions are usually the same as lower left abdominal pain and left flank pain. Sometimes the problem may arise from the back, like conditions with the spinal cord or spinal nerves, and radiate to the area above the hip.
Superficial pain above the left hip usually arises from the abdominal wall. The soft tissue, such as skin, muscles, fat and fascia, may be strained or injured in various ways which can result in pain. Sometimes pain may arise from the uppermost portion of the pelvic bone due to various disorders and diseases.
Hernias are where the abdominal wall is weakened in one area and bulges outwards. It is usually painless. However, a portion of the intestine may become trapped within it. This is known as a strangulated hernia and can cause damage to the bowels if the blood supply is compromised. This can cause severe pain.
There is usually some visible or palpable signs and symptoms with abdominal wall problems. This may include:
- Redness of the skin
- Swelling or abnormal masses
- Bruising or discoloration of the skin
Various colon conditions may result in abdominal pain. If the problem involves the descending colon and/or sigmoid colon then the pain may be felt in the lower left quadrant (LLQ) of the abdomen. This may include:
- Colitis: Inflammation of the colon due to infections, reduced blood supply, allergies, autoimmune diseases and other conditions.
- Inflammatory bowel disease: Inflammation of the intestines (bowels) due to an unknown cause but believed to be immune mediated.
- Diverticulitis: Inflammation of the abnormal pouches in the colon (diverticula) usually due to an infection which tends to be more common in the elderly.
- Colorectal cancer: Malignant growth arising from the cells of the colon and/or rectum or when cancer cells from elsewhere invade the colon tissue.
- Colon polyps: Abnormal growths that protrude from the wall of the colon and are usually benign. Although often asymptomatic, multiple large polyps can cause an obstruction.
- Irritable bowel syndrome: A functional bowel disorder due to unknown causes where the movement through the bowels is abnormal (either too fast or slow) despite the lack of any identifiable disease.
- Intestinal obstruction: A blockage in the bowels which may be caused by narrowing of the bowels, abnormal growths, foreign bodies, impacted feces and problems with muscles or nerves (pseudo-obstruction).
Abdominal pain with colon conditions may vary in nature and intensity. Sometimes it may be described as abdominal cramps.
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Nausea with or without vomiting
- Blood or mucus in the stool
- Persistent urge to pass stool
The ureter runs from the kidney in the upper abdomen (flanks) down to the bladder in the pelvis. Ureteral conditions are usually associated with kidney and/or bladder problems. This may include:
- Ureteritis: Inflammation of the ureter which is usually due to an infection. This may be as a result of an ascending urinary tract infection (UTI) involving the bladder or a kidney infection that spreads downwards.
- Ureteral stones: Kidney stones that pass down the ureter may injure the ureteral walls or become obstructed within the ureter.
- Ureteral strictures: Narrowings of the ureter may occur with a host of different conditions, such as the formation of scar tissue.
Ureteral causes of pain above the hip usually present with other urinary symptoms. This may include:
- Frequent urination
- Little to no urine passed
- Pain and/or burning during urination
- Incomplete emptying of the bladder
- Straining to pass urine
- Dribbling after urination
- Constant urge to pass urine
- Blood and/or pus in the urine
Ovary and Fallopian Tubes
Althoug the ovary and fallopian tubes may lie lower down in the pelvic cavity, there may be pain experienced around and above the hip. The following conditions may be responsible for gynecological causes of pain above the left hip.
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome: Cysts in the ovaries associated with elevated testosterone levels in women and difficulty falling pregnant.
- Endometriosis: Inner uterine tissue (endometrial tissue) occurs abnormally outside of the uterus and responds to menstrual cycle changes.
- Ectopic pregnancy: Implantation of a fertilized egg in abnormal locations, most commonly within the fallopian tube.
- Ovulation: Some discomfort may be experienced during ovulation and some women may experience pain at this time. This is known as Mittelschmerz.
- Heavy or scanty menstruation
- Frequent, infrequent or absence of periods
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding or other discharge
WARNING: Pain above the left hip with or without other symptoms should be investigated by a medical professional. If the pain is severe or worsening and accompanied by serious symptoms like bleeding, difficulty breathing, dizziness or confusion then immediate medical attention is necessary.