The hip is a complex structure consisting of two bones, the joint between them, and the muscles that generate its strength and motion. Everything from getting out of a chair to running requires the hip, and many large muscle groups working in coordination to provide motion. Often, these muscles also affect the back or knee joint. Because of this, hip pain can often be difficult to diagnose and very debilitating. Hip problems can be caused by overuse, traumatic injury, and/or changes that occur naturally in your body.
Suffering from hip pain? Contact us to learn about treatment options.
How Your Hip Works
The hip consists of two bones: the thighbone (femur) and the hip (pelvis). The femur and the pelvis come together to form the hip joint (iliofemoral). The thighbone is a long bone running from the knee up to the hip with a ball-shaped head that fits neatly into a socket on the hip (acetabulum). Inside the socket is a flexible rim of soft tissue called the labrum, which helps increase the stability of the hip. Surrounding the hip joint is a joint capsule and multiple ligaments that help strengthen the hip joint.
Surrounding the hip joint are many different small muscles that work together to turn the leg in (internally or medially rotate) or out (externally or laterally rotate). The gluteal muscles are the major muscles that extend or allow the leg to move backward. The hip flexors in the front of the leg help flex the hip, bringing your leg up as if you were climbing stairs. In order for the hip to function properly, the bones, joints, and muscles must all work in unison.
Evaluating Hip Pain
Evaluation for hip pain starts with you telling us when and how it started, how it currently feels, and which treatments you have tried so far. We also ask about other medical conditions that may contribute to your hip pain and conduct a physical exam to test your hip structures. We check your hip’s range of motion and strength and do special tests that can uncover specific problems.
Hip pain can sometimes be the result of an issue in your lower back, as they are in close proximity and many muscles overlap. This makes it particularly difficult to determine the true cause of the pain. If a nerve is pinched in your back, the pain can often manifest in your hip or groin region.
Based on the findings of your physical exam, we may recommend a cortisone injection as a clinical test and pain treatment. The injection’s numbing medicine helps us determine the source of your pain, while the cortisone can provide pain relief. Sometimes we order X-rays or MRIs to visualize your bones and soft tissues. X-rays can show us fractures, spurs, and changes from arthritis. MRIs can show us more bone detail, as well as soft-tissue damage like muscle or labrum tears.
Causes of Hip Pain
- Bone Spurs/Impingement
- Soft tissue damage
- Less common causes include dislocation, infection, tumors, or nerve problems.
Treating Hip Pain
Hip pain treatment is specific to the diagnosis and severity of your symptoms.