Today we are going to tackle the second part of our series on common injury sites. If you missed our first one on the shoulder, check it out here. In this installment, we are going to talk about the hips.
Hips Don’t Lie
Like the shoulder joint, the hip joint or acetabulum (my very favorite word in the world), is the only other joint in the body that is technically capable of 360-degree movement. If you have ever seen gymnasts or Cirque Du Soleil performers, you know what the possibilities looks like. Yet, for all that movement, it can still be a moderately unstable joint when injured.
Let’s do a quick anatomy lesson, shall we? The hip joint is a true ball and socket joint. The ball part of the joint is at the very top femur. Along with your pelvis, a bursa, and some connective tissue, you have your hip girdle. Fun to try at home…run your hand down the side of your leg going in the direction from your hip to your knee, you will feel a slight bump coming out, just below the where your leg meets your abdomen – that is where your femur is attaching to your pelvis, thus attaching your leg to the rest of your body.
The quadriceps, hamstring, hip flexor and gluteal muscle groups, which are the powerhouse movers of your legs, attach around your hips helping the hip to rotate, flex and extend your leg. For more information about these muscle groups, head on over here.
Common Hip Injuries
As I stated earlier, the hip joint and surrounding muscles are powerful when in good physical shape, however, when injured or under duress, we can have more issues. These injuries befall athletes more than anyone. I am not just talking about the professional, this also includes weekend warriors. Hip pain can come in the form of a sprain or strain, a contusion/bruise to the most serious fracture or dislocation. Because it is at a somewhat awkward location, braces just don’t work here.
- First Degree: Hip Flexors have a micro tear, or they could be overstretched
- Second Degree: Hip Flexors have a minor tear
- Third Degree: The tendon is completely torn (it does happen, although it’s rare)
- This is the inflammation of the bursa (a fluid-filled sac at located at joints to aid in cushioning the joint)
- Very painful; movement can exacerbate pain.
- Hip will be tender to touch in most instances
- This is the inflammation of the tendon (most common inflammatory tendon is the IT band)
- Can cause pain in both knee and hip
- Commonly seen in runners
- Hip Pointer injuries are caused by direct blow to the top of the hip bone
- Can be very painful, will be accompanied by bruising
- Although this is most detected in younger athletes, it bears mention
- Occurs with malformation of the joint causing the bones to be in direct contact with each other.
- Can cause serious damage if not treated properly
- Very common, repetitive trauma injury to the hip joint or bones
- Most seen in long distance runners
Hip Pain Treatment
What can you do to treat these injuries? Many minor contusions or abrasions can be treated at home. In the acute or beginning phase, you want to use ice for 20-minute intervals for a few hours, and you must rest it. Some physicians recommend NSAIDs as well for pain relief. It is important to remember, if you experience any of the following symptoms, see a doctor right away.
- You can’t move your leg
- You can’t put weight on the affected leg
- Pain accompanied by swelling (may or may not have warmth coming from the area)
- Joint is “out of place” or appears distorted in some way
- You cannot use the leg/joint in a reasonable way while walking and/or running
If you have sought a physician diagnosis, treatment can range from Massage Therapy or Physical Therapy to more invasive protocols such as surgery. Only a diagnosis from your physician can say for sure what you will need. So, when in doubt, seek them out.
Hip Pain & Injury Prevention
I am going to sound like a broken record here…stretch! It’s not the only thing you can do, but it’s a fantastic start. Beyond stretching, make sure to strengthen the surrounding muscles like the quad, hamstring, and hip flexor group. Using the stair climber, cycle or elliptical machine in the gym are good. If you are more of an outdoors type, hiking is a great way to strengthen the hips. Yoga and pilates are some great low impact ways to strengthen and stretch. When preparing to work out or participate in strenuous activity, make sure to warm up the muscles first. Light plyo moves are great to get the twitch fiber moving and the blood flowing.
[RELATED POST: The Importance of Stretching and Why You Need To Do It Daily]
Remember, prevention can go a long way in terms of injury. Proper techniques, body mechanics, strength training, and stretching are all things you can do a little bit each day to help make sure you are able to get out there and be your best selves.