Posted by Revere Health

Know Your Body: How the Hip Works

June 8, 2016 OrthopedicsPain Management (Physiatry)Sports Fitness and Physical Therapy

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 . . .”


Consider it Hip Anatomy 101

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.

Injuries That Cause Hip Pain

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.

Hip Pain Treatment

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, 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.

Hip pain is a major aggravation. Sufferers need to get a medical evaluation by a doctor who specializes in orthopedics. Take the first step toward resolving your discomfort by calling today to schedule a consultation. Revere Health puts your health above all else.


Dr. Carlson tends to be conservative with surgical treatment, and much of his training is in minimally-invasive procedures, such as arthroscopy. He believes everyone deserves a trial of a more conservative treatment before moving to more invasive treatments such as surgery. Dr. Carlson tries to spend time with patients to better understand their goals and work together to come up with a treatment plan based on those goals and their distinct medical history.


Telehealth is not appropriate for every medical concern, so it’s important to ask your provider whether a virtual visit is suitable for your needs.

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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.