Clear Understanding of your Hip Structure

The hip embodies a true ball and socket joint, where the top of the leg bone looks like a ball and fits into a cup-shaped socket. The human hip performs a tremendous amount of activity (walking, squatting, stair climbing, running, etc.) and bears the weight of our body every day.

Two bones contribute to the main structure of the hip and consist of the femur or upper bone of the leg, and the pelvis bone. Since the top of the femur looks like a ball, it is called the femoral head. The ball-like structure of the femoral head fits into a socket formation on the pelvis bone, called the acetabulum. The rest of the pelvic bone appears as a bowl-shaped group of bones that connect the spine and lower legs.

Dense, stretchy tissue, called cartilage, covers the end of your bones, and pads the region between bones. Around the hip, hyaline cartilage protects the region covering the femoral head and lines the acetabulum socket. Between the two surfaces, liquid synovial fluid lubricates the joint capsule to further add a cushion-effect between the bones.

Large, powerful muscles link the hip bones together and produce the buttocks. People talk about the best, known muscles, called the gluteal muscles, or structures that make up the buttocks and hip muscles. The gluteal muscles help us hold up our body and allow us to be able to walk. Other lesser-known muscles cross inside our pelvis and down our leg to allow the hip to rotate in its socket.
Ligaments refer to the strong bands that connect two bones. In the case of the hip bone, three primary ligaments go from the front to the back side of the hip joint. The iliofemoral and pubofemoral ligaments track along the front of the joint; whereas, the ischiofemoral extends along the back side of the hip joint.

Hip Conditions

Hip Fractures

Most hip fractures (broken bones) occur from falls in people over age 65 years; though children and young adults do break a hip from time to time by falling off bicycles or by injury during sports. The bone breaks usually on the upper part of the femur near where the thighbone goes into the pelvic socket.

The two, most important, symptoms appearing with a broken hip include suffering severe pain in the hip region, and the inability to walk or put weight on the leg beneath the fracture. Swelling and bruising may also occur at the site of the broken bones.

The main method to diagnose a broken bone involves taking an x-ray. If a simple x-ray fails to show the break in the bone, your doctor may order a CT scan or a MRI test, which provide better images to visualize a fracture. One other test available to detect tiny hairline fractures is a bone scan where dye goes into your blood to highlight the broken bone.

The treatment for hip fracture primarily consists of surgery that may be either hip repair surgery or hip replacement surgery. In hip repair surgery, the surgeon uses screws, rods or plates to keep the bone together during the healing process. The hip replacement surgery entails substituting a segment of the joint or the complete joint with synthetic devices.

No matter which surgery your surgeon feels is best for you, you will require some form of rehabilitation with physical therapy after surgery. Physical therapy entails exercises to allow you to reclaim the ability to walk and move around.

Hip Pain

Not only can acute, hip pain be caused by broken bones, other conditions elicit hip pain as well. A person may encounter a decrease in the range of movement of the hip, limping and/or trouble in walking that indicate problems. Other common examples for hip pain include:

Arthritis causes inflammation, sensitivity to touch, and stiffness in the hip joint. A myriad of different types of arthritis can occur ranging from gout to osteoarthritis.

Dislocation of the hip arises from an injury in which the bone pops out of their natural position in the joint. In the case of the hip, the head of the femur moves out of the socket or acetabulum.

Leg length discrepancy refers to a condition whereby one leg differs in length from the other lower extremity. You can be born with this condition or acquire it from prior surgery.

Sprains describe a torn or stretched out ligament in the hip region.

Strains portray an injury to the muscles and tendons in the hip zone.

Tendonitis or tendinitis, usually caused by overuse of the hip, arises from inflammation of the tendons. It not only produces pain in the tendon area, but can generate a loss of motion.

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