Hip Injury

Common and some not-so-common injuries of the hip joint.


The hip is prone to several types of injuries. Sometimes these happen in otherwise healthy joints – an automobile accident or fall breaks a bone or forces the femoral head out of its socket, for example. In other cases, joints compromised by congenital deformities or osteoporosis, for example, leave the hip vulnerable to injury upon the slightest trauma. The following are some of the more common hip injuries.

Broken hip. A broken hip, or hip fracture, can occur at any age, but they are most common in people age 65 and older, particularly women, with osteoporosis. In a younger person with healthy bones it may take a serious injury, such as a car accident, to break a hip, but when osteoporosis weakens bones, even a minor fall can result in a fracture.

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgery offers advice for preventing hip fractures.

Bursitis. Bursitis is swelling and inflammation of the fluid-filled sacs – the bursae – that cushion and lubricate the joints. Inflammation of a bursa situated between the bony bump on the side of the hip (the greater trochanter) and the tendon that passes over it causes pain and aching in the hip and on the outside of the thigh. Referred to as trochanteric bursitis, it is aggravated with walking or any activity that causes the tendon to move over the bone.

Dislocation. A dislocation occurs when the ball at the top of the femur slips out of the socket, causing severe pain and inability to move the leg. It usually takes a strong force – from an automobile accident or severe fall, for example – to cause a dislocated hip. Being born with a shallow hip socket or hip displasia (a congenital deformation of misalignment of the hip joint), however, makes dislocation more likely. Often the ligaments about the hip are damaged if a hip becomes dislocated.

Read more about hip dislocation from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Labral tear. A hip labral tear is damage to the cartilage that surrounds the bony edge of the socket in the pelvis. This can occur as the result of repetitive use of the hip and can be seen in the early stages of osteoarthritis or can be caused by an injury such as a fall or accident that causes twisting of the joint.

Snapping hip syndrome. This condition is characterized by a snapping sensation in the hip, with or without an audible noise and pain, when the hip is extended. Snapping hip syndrome may occur when bands of connective tissue that support the hip thicken and catch as they slide back and forth across the top end of the femur. Often, the bursae underneath also become inflamed and painful. Snapping hip syndrome may occur in athletes such as ballet dancers, gymnasts, runners, weightlifters and soccer players due to be the result of repetitive, vigorous use and injury.

Learn more about snapping hip syndrome from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

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