Hip pain is usually associated with muscle, bone and joint problems. However, there are times when the pain is above the hip and this can be due to entire different conditions. Like pain above the right hip, diseases and disorders of the abdominal organs above the left hip can also cause pain in the region but on the left side. It is important to note that it is not only the kidney that is located here as many people tend to believe. In fact the left kidney lies much higher up the abdomen than just immediately above the left hip.
Organs Above the Left Hip
Apart from the skin, muscles and fascia that comprise the abdominal wall, there are various organs in this region that must be considered as the source of pain above the left hip. The area above the left hip is the lower left abdominal quadrant and the organs that lie in this area includes:
- Colon, descending and sigmoid.
- Left ureter
- Parts of the small intestine
- Left ovary and fallopian tube (females)
Superficial pain above the left hip is most likely arising from the skin, muscles and connective tissue. Deeper lying pain may be due to a problem with one of the organs mentioned above.
The peritoneum is a double layered sheet of tissue that lines the inner abdominal wall as well as covering some abdominal organs like the intestines. When the peritoneum becomes inflamed, pain may also occur. However, the pain tends to be diffuse rather than located to a specific region, like above the hip.
Always consult with a medical doctor and do not attempt to self diagnose. Certain conditions that present with pain above the left hip can be serious and even life-threatening. The accompanying signs and symptoms with the pain may be misleading. Therefore a medical professional has to assess the abdominal area and possibly run investigations before making a final diagnosis.
Causes of Pain Above the Left Hip
On its own, pain in the abdominal region can be difficult to diagnose. The abdominal organs lie close to each other. Pain that may appear to be from one organ may actually emanate from the neighboring organ. Therefore other symptoms that are present must be considered for a diagnosis, prior to performing diagnostic investigations like an ultrasound, CT scan or MRI.
Pain from the Abdominal Wall
The abdomen lacks bones that form the abdominal wall. Instead muscle sheets along with fascia, subcutaneous fat (fat under the skin) and the skin form the abdominal wall. Pain from the wall mainly arises with muscle strain or surface trauma. This occurs with strenuous physical activity or a blow to the abdomen as may occur during an assault. As mentioned above, the pain is usually felt superficially (on the surface).
An abdominal hernia is where a portion of the abdominal wall weakens and bulges outwards. This is usually not painful. However, if a portion of the small bowel becomes trapped in this outpouching then it can become strangulated. This is where the blood supply to the small intestine is cut off. It is known as strangulated hernia and requires immediate medical attention.
Some of the symptoms of abdominal wall problems apart from the pain includes:
- Redness of the skin
- Skin rash
- Abnormal bulge or lump
It is not uncommon for no other symptoms to be evident on the abdominal wall despite there being pain from teh area above the left hip.
Pain from the Colon
The descending colon runs down the left side of the abdomen and continues as the sigmoid colon to join the rectum. A host of colon diseases can result in pain on the left side of the abdomen. Problems in the lower part of the descending colon or in the sigmoid colon may present as pain above the left hip.
The conditions that involve these areas includes colitis, diverticulitis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), intestinal obstruction, colon polyps and colorectal cancer. Although these conditions may be significantly different, the symptoms can overlap to a large degree.
Read more on colon pain.
Apart from the pain above the left hip, there may also be one or more of the following symptoms:
- Alterations in bowel habit – constipation or diarrhea.
- Mucus and/or blood in the stool.
- Straining to pass stool.
- Constant urge for a bowel movement.
- Nausea and vomiting may occur in rare cases.
Pain from the Ureter
The ureter runs from the left kidney which is high up on the left side of the abdomen down to the bladder. This thin tube runs downwards near the left flank. It carries urine from the kidney to the bladder. There are few problems involving the ureter can cause pain above the left hip.
One of the common causes is kidney stones, which travels from the kidney down the ureter. The stone can injure the ureter and may even obstruct it. A kidney infection (pyelonephritis) can spread to the ureter and this may also cause pain. Another possible cause is narrowing of the ureter (stricture) which is uncommon but can occur with repeated infections.
The other signs and symptoms of ureter problems includes:
- Reduced urine output
- Pain during urination
- Blood and/or pus in the urine
- Changes in urinary patterns, like frequent urination
It is important to note that if the other kidney and ureter is unaffected then it can compensate by producing more urine.
Pain from the Fallopian Tube and Ovary
In females, the ovaries and fallopian tubes are located around the hip. Pain may be felt just above the left hip if there are are diseases or disorders of the female reproductive organs. This can occur with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), ovarian cancer, infection of the ovary and/or fallopian tube and ectopic pregnancy. Although ovarian cancer is serious and deadly if left untreated, an ectopic pregnancy is considered a medical emergency.
Read more on ovarian pain.
The pain above the left hip may arise or worsen with certain phases of the menstrual cycle, like with menstruation. However, it can persist throughout the cycle. The other symptoms that may also be present:
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding
- Missed period
- Menstruation may be heavy or scanty