ANATOMY OVERVIEW OF THE HIP
The hip is a ball and socket joint and also one of the body’s largest joints. Working in tandem with the neighboring acetabulum (socket) in the pelvis is the femur (thigh bone), the strongest and longest bone in the body. The femoral head (ball) of the femur sits in the pelvis socket. The joint is coated with cartilage that allows for easy standing and sitting movements.
INJURIES TO THE HIP
Because the femur is so strong it takes a great deal of force for it to break. Fractures most commonly occur from a car or motorcycle accident, a fall from a high distance and gunshot wounds. However, some elderly people can suffer a spontaneous fracture simply from standing.
Hip dislocations from a traumatic accident are serious injuries requiring emergency medical attention.
Osteoarthritis (typically found in older people) can be prevalent in the hip. It is sometimes referred to as the “wear and tear” arthritis due to the erosion of cartilage that coats the joints over time, leading to pain and inflammation. Osteoarthritis often affects the hip because it is a weight-bearing joint. Other types of arthritis, such as ankylosing spondylitis, that are located elsewhere in the body can also affect the hip.
Injuries to the thigh muscles often occur in athletes who play running sports such as basketball, soccer and track. There are three sets of muscles in the thigh: hamstrings, quadriceps and abductor muscles that are susceptible to strain. Muscle strain occurs when the fibers in the muscle tear due to being stretched beyond their limits.
COMMON HIP CONDITIONS
Femur shaft fracture – a break in the long, straight portion of the femur bone
Hip osteoarthritis – a degenerative type of arthritis where the cartilage in the hip joint wears away causing painful friction
Hamstring muscle injuries – a strain caused by the three (3) hamstring muscles being lengthened and loaded beyond their capacity
WHEN TO SEE A HIP SPECIALIST
- Seek medical treatment from a hip specialist if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- Pain in the groin or thigh area that radiates to the buttocks or knee
- Pain in the hip area that flares up during or after vigorous activity
- Stiffness or pain in the hip joint upon walking, bending or sitting
- “Locking” or “sticking” (caused by loose fragments of cartilage and other tissue interfering with smooth motion of the hip) of the hip joint along with a grinding noise (crepitus) during movement
- A decreased range of motion in the hip affecting the ability to walk, perhaps with a limp
Your doctor will discuss all treatment options with you. The best treatment for your injury or condition will be determined in combination with your overall health.
There are several nonoperative treatment options for hip pain. These might include physical therapy, pain management in the form of over-the-counter or prescribed medications and/or anti-inflammatories, injections and immobilization. If surgery is necessary, PSO hip specialists can perform a wide variety of procedures ranging from minimally invasive to major reconstruction such as hip joint replacement.
Learn about hip replacement.