Common Hip Conditions

Common Injuries of the Hip


The hip is a ball-and-socket joint connecting the head of the femur (upper thigh bone) to the bones that make up the pelvis. Hip pain can be caused by a wide range of issues, from a progressive condition that has developed over time, such as bursitis and arthritis, to an acute injury, such as a fracture or dislocation.


If left untreated, cases involving inflammatory or degenerative diseases, like hip bursitis and hip osteoarthritis, can cause severe pain and immobility, and surgery may be introduced as a viable option for relieving pain and restoring mobility. While hip pain can be the result of trauma or acute injury, it most commonly arises in conjunction with an orthopaedic condition that has developed over time.

Common Hip Conditions & Procedures


Anatomy of the Hip Joint

Overview The hip joint is one of the largest weight-bearing joints in the body. This ball-and-socket joint allows the leg to move and rotate while keeping the body stable and balanced. Let's take a closer look at the main parts of the hip joint's anatomy. Bones Two bones meet at the hip joint, the femur and the pelvis. The femur, commonly called the "thighbone," is the longest and heaviest bone of the body. At the top of the femur, positioned on the femoral neck, is the femoral head. This is the "ball" of the hip joint. The other part of the joint – the "socket" – is found in the pelvis. The pelvis is a bone made of three sections: the ilium, the ischium and the pubis. The socket is located where these three sections fuse. The proper name of the socket is the "acetabulum." The head of the femur fits tightly into this cup-shaped cavity. Articular Cartilage The femoral head and the acetabulum are covered with a layer of articular cartilage. This tough, smooth tissue protects the bones. It allows them to glide smoothly against each other as the ball moves in the socket. Soft Tissues Several soft tissue structures work together to hold the femoral head securely in place. The acetabulum is surrounded by a ring of cartilage called the "acetabular labrum." This deepens the socket and helps keep the ball from slipping out of alignment. It also acts as a shock absorber. The ligament of the head of the femur anchors the ball to the socket. And the entire joint is wrapped within three large femoral ligaments. Conclusion The hip joints are versatile joints. They support your body while allowing you to perform a wide range of activities. Because the hip joints bear such a heavy load, they are vulnerable to injury and to osteoarthritis.

Avascular Necrosis (Osteonecrosis) of the Hip

Overview This is a weakening and collapse of the bone in the head of your femur. That's the ball that fits in the socket of your hip. As this bone gradually dies and breaks apart, you can develop painful arthritis in your hip. Causes Avascular necrosis is caused by a problem with blood circulation. It happens when your bone doesn't get the blood supply it needs. Bone is a living tissue that contains its own blood vessels. Blood allows the cells of your bones to grow and make repairs. If blood circulation is cut off, the bone cells die. Blood flow can be cut off to the head of your femur if you dislocate or break your hip. Blood flow is also affected by alcoholism, medications, and by certain medical conditions that involve your circulatory system. Symptoms At first, you may not have any symptoms. But eventually you may begin to feel pain in your hip or buttocks. You may notice it during physical activity. This pain gradually gets worse. Eventually it may hurt to stand or to put weight on your hip, or even when you lie down. Treatment In its early stages, medications, rest and physical therapy may help your symptoms and slow the progression. But as it gets worse, you may need a surgical procedure. Your healthcare provider can create a plan that's right for you.

Femoroacetabular Impingement (FAI)

Overview This is a problem with the hip joint. In a healthy hip, the ball of the femur is smooth and round. It fits perfectly into the hip socket. But with this condition, the ball, the socket or both the ball and the socket are shaped poorly. They don't fit together well. When you move your hip, they rub together harmfully. Causes FAI is caused by abnormal bone development. It happens when your bones don't grow properly in childhood. One or more abnormal bone growths form. This creates an unevenness that restricts movement. The ball and socket rub or press against each other instead of gliding smoothly and easily. Symptoms Symptoms include pain and stiffness in your hip. You may feel a deep ache, or your pain may be sharp. You may develop a limp. Treatment Treatment options include medications and physical therapy. You may need to avoid activities that cause pain in your hip. If these aren't helpful, you may benefit from surgery. Your healthcare provider can create a plan that's right for you.

Femur Fractures

Overview The thigh bone, also called the "femur", is the largest and strongest bone in your body. A femur fracture is a crack or a break of this bone. Causes You can fracture your femur if you fall hard on your leg. A road accident may cause a fracture. Conditions that weaken your bones make a fracture more likely. Types of Fractures Femur fractures can happen near the hip socket, along the shaft (the middle) of the bone, or down near the knee. Your bone may break in a clean line. It may break at an angle or in a spiral pattern. It can break into many pieces. With a very serious break, a piece of bone may pierce through the skin. Symptoms If you break your femur, it hurts a lot. You won't be able to put weight on your leg. Your leg may look shorter than normal. It may not be straight. Treatment Most femur fractures need surgery. You may need a cast or a brace. Physical therapy is an important part of recovery. Your healthcare provider can create a care plan that is right for your needs.

Hip Fracture

Overview This is a break of the upper part of your femur. The femur is the long bone in your upper leg. At the top of the femur is the "head." This is the ball that fits into your hip socket. A hip fracture may happen at the "neck" of the femur (the thin portion of bone under the head). Fractures may also happen below the neck. Causes Hip fractures can be caused by traumatic injury. Auto accidents and falls are common culprits. Hip fractures are also a problem for elderly people. This is because bones can thin and weaken with age. In some elderly people, the skeleton can become so fragile that a hip can break during normal activity. Symptoms A broken hip causes severe pain. It prevents you from being able to put weight on your leg. Your leg may turn outward away from your body. It may appear shorter than your other leg. Your hip may bruise, swell and stiffen. Treatment A fractured hip is almost always treated surgically. You may benefit from screws and plates that realign and anchor the broken pieces of your femur. You may benefit from a hip replacement. And after your hip is repaired, you will need physical therapy. Your healthcare provider can create a care plan that is right for your needs.

Hip Fracture Prevention

Overview A broken hip is serious and disabling. With a broken hip, you may not be able to care for yourself. Sometimes, complications from a hip fracture can lead to death. Avoid a broken hip with these basic safety measures. Keep Your Bones Strong Bones lose strength as people age, especially in women. Weak bones make a broken hip more likely. Help keep your bones strong by eating foods rich in calcium and vitamin Avoid tobacco and alcohol. Exercise every day to keep your bones and muscles strong. This also helps you have good balance. Home Safety Prevent falls by making your home safe. Pick up objects that can trip you. Keep yourself from slipping in the bathroom. Install grab bars and use nonslip mats. Avoid dangerous situations like walking on slippery floors or climbing ladders. Take Care of Yourself Pay attention to your medications. Make sure they don't cause side effects like dizziness or weakness. Go to your eye doctor regularly and wear your glasses when you walk. Know your limits. Use a cane or a walker if you need it. And stand up slowly. Your healthcare provider can give you other tips based on your overall health and activity level.

Bursitis of the Hip (Trochanteric Bursitis)

Overview This is an irritation or swelling of the trochanteric bursa. This small, fluid-filled sac is found on the outer side of the femur. It acts as a cushion for the iliotibial band, a thick tendon in your leg. Causes Trochanteric bursitis can be caused by repetitive stress. It can be caused by a fall or a hard blow to the outer side of your hip. It can be caused by poor posture. It can also be caused by certain diseases and conditions. Symptoms The most common symptom of this type of bursitis is pain on the outer side of your hip. It may be sharp, or it may be a dull ache. It may spread to your thigh and buttock. This pain may feel worse during physical activity that involves your hip. It may also feel worse when you lie on the affected side of your body. Treatment Treatment options include rest, medications and physical therapy. You may benefit from the temporary use of a cane or crutches. If these methods are not helpful, you may benefit from a surgical procedure. Your healthcare provider can create a care plan that is right for your needs.

Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS)

Overview This is a problem on the outer side of your thigh. It's an inflammation of the iliotibial band. That's a thick band of tissue that spans from your hip to your shinbone. When this band becomes in inflamed, it can hurt. Causes This syndrome is caused by overuse. As you move your leg, the iliotibial band can rub against the bones of your hip and knee. Over time, that irritates it. Iliotibial band syndrome is common in cyclists and runners. Poor training habits may raise your risk. You're also more likely to develop it if the structure of your leg causes the band to rub. Symptoms For many people, iliotibial band syndrome causes knee pain. You feel it on the outer side of your knee. But you can feel pain anywhere along the length of this band, all the way up to your hip. The pain gets worse with activity, and feels better with rest. Treatment Treatment depends on the severity of your symptoms. If the inflammation is mild, you may be able to treat it with rest, stretches and medications. If these aren't helpful, you may need to try other options. In very severe cases, the iliotibial band can be released with surgery. Your healthcare provider can create a plan that's right for you.

Labral Tear of the Hip (Acetabular Labrum Tear)

Overview If your hip joint hurts, or if it catches or clicks when you move your leg, you may have a torn labrum. That's a rim of tissue that surrounds the hip's socket. It helps to deepen the socket and cushion the joint. A torn labrum can keep the hip joint from working smoothly. Causes You can tear a labrum during athletic activity. It can happen if you play football, soccer, golf or hockey. It can also be a problem for ballet dancers. In some people, labral tears are linked to problems with the shape of the hip joint. And, a labral tear can also develop if your hip joint has degenerated because of osteoarthritis. Symptoms A torn labrum can cause pain in your groin or in the front of your hip. Your hip may hurt when you are active. You may also notice a catching or a clicking sensation in the joint when you move it. Treatment Treatment options may include medications and physical therapy. If these aren't helpful, you may benefit from surgery. Your healthcare provider can create a plan that's right for you.

Osteoarthritis of the Hip

Overview This type of arthritis, also called "degenerative joint disease," is a breakdown of the cartilage in your hip joint. As this protective cartilage wears away, bone rubs against bone. Bony growths called "bone spurs" may form in the joint. Pain from osteoarthritis can keep you from being as active as you like. Causes Osteoarthritis doesn't have a specific cause. The normal wear and tear of aging can bring it on. So your risk is higher as you get older. It's higher if you have a family history of the condition. Osteoarthritis is more likely to develop if you are overweight, and if you've ever injured your hip. You also have a higher risk if the ball or socket of your hip joint is shaped poorly. Symptoms Symptoms include pain and stiffness in your hip. For some, this happens over time. For others, it starts suddenly. Your hip may be worse in the morning, after you sit or rest, and on rainy days. Symptoms may flare up when you are active. Pain may radiate into your thigh, buttock and knee. Your hip may lock or grind when you move it. This can limit your range of motion. Treatment Treatment options include medications, physical therapy and an aid like a cane, walker or other device to help you get around. You may need to limit activities that cause pain. If these aren't helpful, surgery may help. Your healthcare provider can create a plan that's right for you.