Hip injuries are widespread and can cause problems if not managed. Our hips support much of our weight, so an acute or chronic injury can be debilitating. Some of the most common hip injuries include:1
- Muscle strains
Even a mild injury can make it challenging to get around. Let’s take a look at the joint itself and each of these injuries. We’ll also touch on how to protect the hip to prevent injuries.
Movements of the Hip
The hip is a large ball-and-socket joint.2 It is the junction of the femur (the large bone in your thigh) and the pelvis. The joint stabilizes your movements when you walk. It helps the femur move forward and backward, side to side, and rotate around.
Any injury to the hip can cause problems walking and standing. These can include injuries to the joint itself or the surrounding muscles, tendons, and bones.
A bruise is the mildest form of injury to the hip, occurring as a result of direct impact from an object or falling or bumping into something. Specifically, a bruise is what we see after the blood vessels beneath the surface of the skin break.3 Over time and with healing, bruise change color (e.g., yellow, black, or blue).
Bruises are usually sore to the touch. Depending on the location and severity, bruises to the hip can make walking uncomfortable or painful by putting additional pressure on the damaged tissue. However, this only occurs in large or serious bruises.
Bruises, as you know, heal on their own. More severe bruises take longer to heal. As we age, the healing process takes longer, and we become more prone to bruising.
2. Muscle Strain
A muscle strain is also known as a “pulled muscle,” which can be painful. These muscles support our weight and movements of the hip. Therefore, a strain in a hip muscle can make walking difficult and painful.
Muscle strains occur due to overuse or overstretching of a muscle.4 The muscle fibers wholly or partially tear. Using a strained muscle can be very painful.
Muscle strains heal over time, and the length of healing depends on the severity of the tear. A strain in a hip muscle can take longer to heal because we use these muscles frequently. To aid in the recovery of a muscle strain, it’s recommended that you follow the PRICE method.
A dislocation occurs when the head of the femur (the ball) separates from the pelvis (the socket). This can be extremely painful. These injuries usually happen during high-intensity sports or after a large impact.
Occasionally, a dislocated joint may “pop” back into place, but surrounding tissues may still suffer damage.5 For example, tendons and ligaments may stretch or tear. There can be additional damage to the lining of the joint or the blood vessels.
A dislocated hip should be treated by a medical professional.
A fracture, also known as a broken bone, is one of the most severe injuries to the hip. A fracture can occur in the femur6 (the thigh bone) or the pelvis. Both bones support your body’s weight, and fractures can have serious consequences.
As we age, our bones lose density. Older adults are at higher risk for breaking bones, especially those in the hip. However, young people can break their hips, too. Sudden impact, such as in a car accident, can fracture the femur or pelvis.
A broken bone always requires medical attention. Most hip fractures require intensive surgical procedures. As you recover, you will need to use crutches and avoid using the broken bone to bear weight. Once the bone has healed, you may need physical therapy to regain your strength.
Protecting the Hip Joint
Even a minor injury to the hip can be devastating. That’s why it’s essential to take proactive measures to protect your hip, especially if you play high-impact sports.
Strengthening the joint can help reduce injury. By exercising regularly, you can increase the strength of your hip muscles. Along with flexibility training, this can reduce the risk of muscle strains.4 Likewise, warming up before exercise can also help reduce strains.
Limiting high-impact sports can also help. If you enjoy playing football, consider limiting the amount of time you play.
Finally, take control of your diet. Make sure you get enough calcium and consider supplementing with strontium. Calcium and strontium can increase bone density. This is especially important for older adults to help prevent osteoporosis. Osteoporosis increases the likelihood of fractures, particularly in the hip.
Taking a supplement designed to improve joint health can also help. Several ingredients in Artic Flex (such as krill oil, omega-3’s, and strontium) support bone and joint health. These ingredients can help keep your joints healthy and reduce the likelihood of injury.
- Hip injuries, age 12 and older. Health Link BC. https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/health-topics/hin11#:~:text=A%20sudden%20(acute)%20injury%20may,dislocated%20hip%20or%20sprained%20hip. Accessed 8/4/2020.
- The hip joint. Teach Me Anatomy. https://teachmeanatomy.info/lower-limb/joints/hip-joint/#:~:text=The%20hip%20joint%20is%20a,a%20large%20range%20of%20movement. Accessed 8/4/2020.
- Medline Plus. https://medlineplus.gov/bruises.html#:~:text=A%20bruise%20is%20a%20mark,skin%2C%20muscle%20and%20bone%20bruises. Accessed 8/4/2020.
- Muscle strain. Harvard Health Publishing. https://www.health.harvard.edu/a_to_z/muscle-strain-a-to-z. Accessed 8/4/2020.
- Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dislocation/symptoms-causes/syc-20354113. Accessed 8/4/2020.
- Hip fractures. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/hip-fractures#:~:text=A%20hip%20fracture%20is%20a,the%20level%20of%20the%20fracture. Accessed 8/4/2020.