Transient Osteoporosis of the Hip

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Transient osteoporosis of the hip is a rare condition mostly found in young or middle-aged men between the ages of 30 and 60, and women in their later stages of pregnancy or early postpartum period (following childbirth). Individuals often have the sudden onset of pain in the hip that worsens with activity.

OrthoAspen’s hip specialists help patients navigate the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of transient osteoporosis of the hip. It’s our goal to help eliminate pain and discomfort as quickly and effectively as possible.

transient osteoporosis of the hip

Causes & Symptoms

The hip joint is a ball-and-socket joint. A part of the pelvis bone known as the acetabulum forms the socket. The upper end of the femur, known as the femoral head, forms the ball. In patients with transient osteoporosis of the hip, the femoral head loses its density and strength and becomes more prone to breaking.

Although the exact cause of transient osteoporosis of the hip is unknown, proposed causes include:

  • Mechanical stresses acting on the hip joint
  • Hormonal abnormalities
  • Blockage of some of the small blood vessels surrounding the hip joint

Symptoms of transient osteoporosis of the hip include:

  • Unknown pain in the hip (not triggered by any previous accident or injury)
  • Abrupt onset of pain in the anterior thigh, the side of the hip, groin or buttocks
  • Various degrees of pain that increase with activities or weight bearing and decrease with rest
  • Intense pain with extreme hip range of motion
  • Gradual increasing pain that becomes disabling over a few weeks or months
  • Prominent limp

Diagnosis of transient osteoporosis of the hip begins with going over medical history and a physical examination. Your OrthoAspen doctor may ask you questions related to your general health and any previous accidents or injuries.

You will be asked to perform various range-of-motion exercises to assess your pain. Most patients experience acute pain when bearing weight and performing an active range of motion. Patients often experience minimal pain when the doctor moves the hip for them, which is considered a passive range of motion. These are common indicators for diagnosing transient osteoporosis of the hip.

Imaging studies such as X-rays, CT scans, MRIs or nuclear scans are often recommended to further evaluate and determine transient osteoporosis of the hip.

It’s common for most patients with transient osteoporosis of the hip to have bone marrow edema. Bone marrow edema is a condition where fluid builds up in the bone marrow (spongy material located in the hollow of the long bones) and the bone marrow becomes inflamed. MRI scans have been found to be particularly beneficial in determining bone marrow edema.


Transient osteoporosis of the hip resolves on its own and treatment involves preventing any damage to the weakened bones while minimizing symptoms and discomfort. Conservative treatment approaches include:

  • Medication
    Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications or NSAIDs to alleviate inflammation and pain.
  • Restricted Weight Bearing
    Restriction or complete avoidance of weight bearing on the hip joint. Walking aids such as crutches, a cane or a walker are often suggested to limit the stress on the hip bone.
  • Physical Therapy
    Special exercises help strengthen the muscles supporting the hip. Water exercises have been found to be helpful as they ease movement and relieve weight bearing.
  • Nutrition
    Vitamin D and calcium have been found to be effective in healing and rebuilding of bones. Your doctor will recommend foods or supplements that can help you recover faster.

At OrthoAspen, our hip specialists are dedicated to helping you recover from hip injuries and conditions as quickly and safely as possible.

If you’re concerned that you may be experiencing transient osteoporosis of the hip contact us today to schedule a consultation or call us at 970-544-1289.


Visit OrthoAspen in two convenient locations
Aspen Clinic
Aspen Valley Hospital
0401 Castle Creek Rd., Suite 2100,

Aspen, CO 81611
+(970) 544-1289
+(970) 544-1400
Basalt Clinic
Midvalley Medical Center
1450 E. Valley Rd., Suite 201,

Basalt, CO 81621
+(970) 544-1289
+(970) 544-1400