Know Your Body: How the Hip Works
posted by Brady Barker, MD | June 8, 2016
Hip pain has three possible sources: injury, wear or disease. As someone who enjoys hiking and golf, I understand how discomfort from an injury can derail normal activities. Helping patients overcome hip injuries and eliminating pain is an extremely gratifying aspect of being an orthopedic specialist. The list of specific culprits for hip pain is a long one. If you’re feeling pain or stiffness from a hip injury, you’ll profit by first learning more about this joint.
As a child, you probably heard the “Dry Bones” song:
“The thigh bone’s connected to the, hip bone
The hip bone’s connected to the, back bone . . .”
Two bones form a hip joint: the thighbone (femur) and the pelvis. Everyday Health points out that they create the largest ball-and-socket joint in the human body. The rounded end of the femur is the ball. The socket is a concave area in the lower side of your pelvis. The ball fits into the socket to make the joint, a structure that naturally accommodates a lot of motion.
The ball attaches to the remainder of the thigh bone via the femoral neck. Next to the neck is a bump called the greater trochanter on the outside of the hip. Muscles attach to it. Cartilage is responsible for helping to prevent friction between concave area and the ball. However, cartilage injury or wear with age can eventually cause pain.
Helping patients overcome hip injuries and eliminating pain is an extremely gratifying aspect of being an orthopedic specialist.
Several muscles control motions of the hip joint. The gluteal muscles, or “glutes,” attach to the back of hip bones and comprise the buttocks. They also attach to the greater trochanter to hold the pelvis in place and help you stay upright while moving. They can be painful if injured. Other types of muscles are also responsible for your hip’s well-being. Among them are the adductor, iliopsoas and rectus femoris. A long tendon called the iliotibial band runs down the leg and can cause pain when it’s overused or too tight.
Disease processes also cause pain. Most common are several types of arthritis and avascular necrosis.
Among the most frequent hip injuries that cause pain are these five, Healthline reports:
Broken hip: It’s usually associated with aging, but it’s serious at any age.
Sprains and strains: A sprain is tearing or damage to a ligament or joint capsule. A strain means you’ve damaged or torn a muscle.
Dislocation: It’s an emergency requiring quick evaluation.
Stress fractures: They occur over time, most often in long-distance runners.
Bursitis and tendonitis: They often develop from contact sports like hockey.
Many of my hip pain patients respond to conservative treatments like physical therapy and medication. For some, I recommend surgery. Fortunately, surgical techniques today are much less invasive than in the past, Wake Forest® Baptist Health emphasizes. I often perform hip arthroscopy, a non-invasive procedure.
Sometimes a full or partial replacement is necessary. This requires removing damaged parts of the hip joint and using metal and plastic replacements. The University of Maryland School of Medicine indicates that physicians perform almost 300,000 hip replacements annually. Techniques are constantly improving.
The University of Maryland School of Medicine indicates that physicians perform almost 300,000 hip replacements annually.
When a replacement is necessary, Prevention.com says pre-operative planning is the key to a successful outcome. This includes clearing pathways and generally getting your home in order to maximize your comfort and post-surgery results.
I am trained as an orthopedic surgeon and I specialize in total knee and hip joint replacement as well as trauma. I received an undergraduate degree in molecular biology from Brigham Young University and thereafter attended the Medical College of Wisconsin. I was motivated to study medicine because of my passion for science and desire to work with people. I find satisfaction in the process of putting broken people back together and relieving them of pain.
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.
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