By Lisa Gemmel, MPT
The hip is a ball and socket joint between the femur (thigh bone) and the pelvis. The head of the femur fits into the acetabulum (hip socket). The acetabular labrum, a ring of cartilage inside the joint, acts like a suction cup to keep the joint together. The hip joint capsule contains muscles and tendons that act upon the joint. It also has two bursas, fluid filled sacs that prevent friction between bone and soft tissue. The bursa on the outer part of the hip prevents friction between the head of the femur and a band of connective tissue called the iliotibial band. The other bursa is located in the front of the hip, under the iliopsoas muscle. Any of these structures, as well as the lumbar spine, can cause hip pain.
Some common diagnoses associated with hip pain include osteoarthritis, labral tear, bursitis, tendonitis, iliotibial band syndrome, and muscle strains. These conditions can be caused by any of the following: trauma, degeneration, overuse, and structural abnormalities such as leg length discrepancy. Once the proper diagnosis is made, treatment can be initiated. Treatment can include anti-inflammatory medicines, cortisone injections and physical therapy. Physical therapy includes therapeutic exercise, modalities for pain and inflammation, soft tissue or joint mobilizations, and instruction in correct movement patterns.