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Athletic Soft-Tissue Injuries of the Hip

What is the Hip?

The hip is a term frequently used to describe a large area of the body including the pelvis. The hip joint is the ball and socket joint where the top of the femur (bone in the thigh) that is shaped like a ball, the femoral head, fits into the “socket” or acetabulum of the pelvis. This joint is surrounded by a joint capsule, muscles, and ligaments increasing stability and facilitating its function.

What are Athletic Soft-Tissue Injuries of the Hip?

The most common injuries to the soft tissues of the hip occur in the muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Sprains, strains, and contusions, as well as tendonitis and bursitis, are common soft-tissue injuries. Often, these injuries occur during sports and exercise activities, but they can happen when performing simple everyday activities. This can also include abdominal hernias and sports hernias.

Common Causes

Soft-tissue injuries fall into two basic categories: acute injuries and overuse injuries. Acute injuries are caused by a traumatic event, such as a fall, twist, or blow to the body. Sprains, strains, and contusions are examples of common acute injuries.

Overuse injuries occur gradually over time due to repetitive stress without allowing time for the body to heal. Tendonitis and bursitis are common soft-tissue overuse injuries, but can also occur in the setting of osteoarthritis.

Diagnosis and Examination

Initially, a medical history and physical examination by a musculoskeletal expert should be completed. Diagnostic imaging like x-rays or MRI may be ordered and sometimes diagnostic image-guided injections, with the help of x-rays or ultrasound, may be helpful.

Treatment Options

Treatment depends on the injury and its severity, but typically starts with conservative treatment with physical therapy to strengthen the hip muscles, the core muscles, normalizing the hip, pelvic and lower spine dynamics and posture. This can also include targeted image-guided injections. Should conservative treatment fail, surgical options might include release of muscles, repair of tendons, or possibly hernia surgery by a general surgeon.