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Hip Pain

How the Hip Joint Works

In order to understand why hip pain occurs, it’s important know how the hip joint is designed to function. The largest joint in the human body, the hip joint is made up of the ball-like head of the thigh bone, called the femur and its connection to a “socket” in the pelvic bone called the acetabulum. This connection is cushioned by a piece of sturdy cartilage that separates the femur and acetabulum from rubbing together, preventing the bone-on-bone friction that can often result in hip pain. When functioning normally, this perfect-fit design permits the hip joint to move fluidly and effortlessly – allowing us the ability to walk, jump and run.

The hip joint is among the most elastic joints in the human body. It is made for flexibility, repeated motion and for carrying the weight of our bodies. In other words, it was made for some really big jobs. That’s why people who experience hip pain often feel as though the ability to do so many of life’s necessary and seemingly simple tasks (standing and walking, for example) is nearly impossible.

Is Hip Pain ‘Normal?’  

Although the hip joint is biologically designed for flexibility and to withstand a great deal of wear-and-tear, it can still give way to injury (to the joint itself, the bones that comprise it or to the muscles and tendons surrounding it) and hip pain as a result.

One question patients often ask when experiencing any kind of pain - hip or otherwise is - “Isn’t pain just a ‘normal’ part of life and aging?” The most simple answer to this question is no. There is a large difference between “normal” and “common” in medicine. While hip pain may be common (has a tendency to occur more frequently) in some patient populations, it should never be seen as normal or something to just “live with.”

On the contrary, the sooner we can determine what is causing the hip pain, the sooner you can get back to living an active life, free from the pain that may be preventing you from doing the things you love.

Hip Pain and Its Many Forms

No matter the “scale” you place it on, your hip pain doesn’t have to be disabling to warrant medical attention. From a general soreness that you may not consider unbearable to a “catching” or “rubbing” sensation in your hip joint that you might not even place in the category of pain- these sensations still require evaluation and diagnosis from a trained, skilled and experienced orthopedic expert. Our goal is to solve the problem that is causing the discomfort, before it becomes hip pain so severe that it is disabling.

Hip Pain Conditions & Causes

What Causes Hip Pain?

Once we understand how the hip joint works – that it is intricately designed for maximum flexibility and mobility but is not 100% safe from injury – the next step is figuring out what exactly causes hip pain and why.

Hip Pain Causes

There is a wide variety of orthopedic conditions and injuries that can cause hip pain, soreness or discomfort.

Avascular Necrosis (Osteonecrosis) of the Hip (AVN)

When normal blood supply to a bone is disrupted for any reason, Avascular Necrosis can occur. Though it can affect other bones in the body, this condition is most commonly seen in its damaging effects on the bone cells in the head of the femur. Learn more about how this condition causes hip pain.

Femoral-acetabular Impingement (FAI)

Characterized by a misshaped socket and femur connection of the hip joint, this condition can cause hip pain as it limits the normal range of motion that the hip joint was biologically designed for.  

Hip Bursitis

A condition that causes hip pain and swelling on the outer side of the hip, bursitis is the result of inflammation in a fluid-filled sac between the femur and a large tendon on the outside part of the hip. 

Hip Dislocation

A dislocated hip is a traumatic orthopedic injury that occurs when the femur is forcefully moved either backward or forward out of its pelvic bone. Frequently the result of car accidents or falls from significant heights, hip dislocation is a medical emergency.

Hip Fracture

A fractured hip can refer to a broken, cracked or chipped femur or part of the pelvic bone containing the hip socket. This condition is a significant cause of hip pain that often presents as acute sharp or shooting pain. Like hip dislocation, hip fractures are often the result of vehicular crashes or hard falls and most frequently affect the elderly.  

Hip Labral Tear

The hip labrum is a thick band of muscle lining the outer part of the hip socket. Frequently the result of a sports injury in people who engage in repetitive and forceful hip movements (football, soccer and golf for example), hip labral tears may not cause hip pain in some people, yet in others can create pain, stiffness, and a limited range of motion. 

Osteoarthritis of the Hip

Also referred to as degenerative arthritis of the hip, this condition involves a slow but consistent break down of cartilage in the hip joint. Osteoarthritis is one hip pain cause that can have a significant impact on a person’s lifestyle. 

Osteomyelitis of the Hip

An infection of the bone cells in the hip, Osteomyelitis can lead to death of healthy hip none tissue. This condition can cause hip pain that may be severe and can spread infection to other parts of the body if not treated properly or in a timely manner. 

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