The hip joint is a ball and socket joint. It attaches the large bone of the upper leg, the thighbone or femur, to the body’s torso. Inside the hip joint, the head of the femur swivels within the socket, also called the acetabulum. The last consists of the pelvic bones. Hip pain is a common condition that can be a result of a wide range of issues. The exact location of the hip pain provides valuable information about the underlying cause.
Hip pain causes
Hip pain often occurs due to trauma, such as a fall onto the hip. However, other conditions also result in inflammation. The last can occur in structures found within the hip joint or in the tissues surrounding it. For example, the hip joint is a potential space. There is a small area between the bones. It contains a tiny amount of fluid to lubricate the joint. If an illness or injury occurs, inflammation may cause this space to fill with blood or fluid. As a result, the lining of the joint may stretch, causing hip pain symptoms.
The acetabulum and the end of the femur are lined with cartilage. This hard but smooth cartilage decreases friction when the hip bones move. A ring of tough fibrocartilage called the labrum also surrounds the rim of the acetabulum to increase its depth. Like any cartilage found in joints, these areas are susceptible to wear and tear damage or injury and cause hip problems.
Hip pain can also occur due to problems with the following structures:
- Ligaments: These are thick bands of tissue that form a capsule around the hip joint to help maintain its stability.
- Muscles and tendons: These surround the hip and allow the leg to move in different directions. They also provide stability for the hip joint.
- Bursae: These are tiny fluid-filled sacs between the moving parts of the hip joint to help the tendons and muscles move smoothly over the bones.
Pain felt in the hip can originate from sources outside the joint. For example, a pinched nerve in the spinal column can cause pain that radiates into the hip. In addition, pregnancy sometimes results in inflammation of one of the nerves of the thigh that leads to hip pain. Sometimes, a femoral or an inguinal hernia results in hip problems.
Hip pain problems
Common hip pain problems include:
- pinched nerves
- avascular necrosis
- Legg-Calve-Perthes disease in children
Hip pain symptoms
Hip pain, discomfort felt in or around the joint of the hip, can be caused by several different conditions. It can occur suddenly, or it may develop gradually and get worse as time goes on. Sometimes, hip pain is limited to the joint area itself. Still, it often travels down the leg or radiates into the groin area.
Common hip pain symptoms may include:
- joint ache
- groin pain
- swelling in the hip
- hip tenderness
- loss of hip motion
- inability to sleep on the hip
When to see a doctor
If you have hip pain, don’t put off seeing your doctor. Contact the healthcare provider for an evaluation to determine the cause. The doctor can identify what causes a hip problem and choose the most appropriate treatment for your hip pain.