Hip Anatomy

The hip (acetabulum) is the largest joint and strongest in the human body, and many major nerves and arteries pass through it. The hip is a multiaxial, synovial ball and socket joint formed between the os coxa (hip bone) and the femur.

The rounded projection or ball (femoral head) at the top of the thigh bone (femur) fits into the pelvic girdle's socket (acetabulum). Both the ball and socket are lined with cartilage, which cushions the joint.

The space in each ball and socket joint is lined with a thin membrane called the synovium. The synovium cushions the joint and secretes a lubricating fluid (synovia), which reduces bone friction and help with fluid movement.

Common Disorders

Common hip disorders include:

  • Bursitis - typical symptoms include pain on the outside of the hip, thigh and/or buttocks
  • Tendonitis - typical symptoms include pain in the hip flexor (the group of muscles that lets you bring your knee and leg toward your body) or groin.
  • Labral Tear - pain in the hip or groin, limited range of motion, a sensation that the hip is locking, catching or clicking.
  • Hip Impingement - also known as femoral acetabular impingement (FAI), hip impingement is a limited range of motion due to the ball and socket of the hip joint not fitting together properly, also can cause pain and premature arthritis in young adults.
  • Fracture - a break in the upper portion of the femur (thighbone). Most hip fractures occur in elderly patients with osteoporosis. In younger patients, it is typically the result of a traumatic injury, such as a fall from a ladder or vehicle collision. This is a serious injury with complications that can be life-threatening. Symptoms include:

    1. Inability to get up after a fall or walk
    2. Severe pain in the hip or groin
    3. Inability to bear weight on the injured side
    4. Bruising and swelling in and around the injured hip
    5. Shorter leg on the side of the injured hip
    6. Outward turning of the leg on the side of the injured hip
  • Dislocation - severe pain, typically unable to move the leg and leg position may appear abnormal compared with the other leg.
  • Congenital Dislocation - baby is born with dislocated hip caused by incomplete hip development. May also be caused by breached birth. Other contributory factors can include heredity or if there is not enough fluid surrounding the child in the womb.
  • Iliotibial (IT) Band Syndrome - the iliotibial band is a strong, thick band of tissue that runs down the outside of the thigh and extends all the way from the hip bone to the top of your shinbone. IT band syndrome causes an aching, burning feeling on the outside of the knee that sometimes spreads up the thigh to the hip.
  • Snapping Hip Syndrome (SHS) - also known as Coxa Saltans or dancer's hip, snapping hip syndrome is characterized by an audible or palpable snapping or clicking in the hip when walking, running, sitting, or getting up from a chair. Symptoms can range from simply an annoyance to both pain and weakness during hip flexion and extension, which can interfere with the patient's functional mobility. The origin of snapping hip syndrome is classified as external (most common), internal, or intra-articular (least common).

Physical Therapy for Hip Pain

Most hip pain is short term and responds well to physical therapy. Components of your care typically includes:

  • A thorough biomechanical evaluation.
  • Extensive patient education.
  • A customized treatment plan.
  • Gentle hands-on techniques to relax the muscles.
  • Effective joint mobilization techniques to decrease stiffness.
  • Pain-relieving modalities such as ice, heat, ultrasound or electrical stimulation.
  • Targeted stretching for tight muscles.
  • Walking, stair climbing, sit-to-stand retraining.
  • Balance exercises.

Advantages of Physical Therapy:

  • No side effects.
  • Cost-effective.
  • Supported by clinical research.*
  • Customized to treat the underlying cause.
  • Your Recovery Process:
  • Pain Relief
  • Recovery of Any Lost Hip Range of Motion
  • Increased Strength
  • Recovery of Walking and Functional Skills
  • Independent Care