Defining the Hip: The Other Ball and Socket Joint

Updated: Nov 16




The hip is similar to the shoulder in that it is a ball and socket joint with the ability to move in multiple directions and surrounded with several muscles. The hip, however, does not tend to see as many injuries as the shoulder, which may be due to the multitude of strong muscles surrounding the joint. That doesn’t mean the hip is without problems of its own, and these problems can lead to difficulty walking and getting around.


The most common hip diagnosis is arthritis, followed by tendonitis/bursitis, and labral tears. Typically, physical therapy is the first step in your healing journey which may be initiated after a cortisone injection to decrease some of the pain and inflammation. If you're interested in learning more about functioning with arthritis, visit my blog "Osteoarthritis... is my World Over? What to Know About Arthritis." Below I’ll discuss the common diagnoses for hip pain and what to do about each of them.


Strains and Tears and How They Present Themselves in the Hip


The muscles surrounding the hip can also be strained and torn, however, tears are less frequently seen in the hip. The most common muscles to tear in the hip include the hamstring and adductors. Typically, these muscles tear when a piece of the bone breaks off or the fibers of the muscle belly are strained due to a quick stretch such as when cutting side to side or taking off to sprint.


Strains and tears are oftentimes treated conservatively through physical therapy unless the muscle is pulled away from the bone, when surgical intervention is imperative. Typically, strains to the muscles surrounding the hip heal well and the individual can return to full function and sport.


It is important that focus during your rehab is placed on eccentric control and learning how to utilize the bigger muscles that support your hip. Another priority should be balance and stability to increase the control of the smaller stability muscles surrounding the hip to prevent any further strain to the hip going forward.


Labral Tears in the Hip


Labral tears are more prevalent than you would think. In one study, they looked at a group of 70 adults w/out symptoms and found 38.6% had labral tears. In another study they looked at 100 people w/ symptoms and found 66% of them had labral tears.


The good news is that most people can live and function with labral tears of the hip and physical therapy can help to strengthen around the joint and protect it from further damage, wear and tear, and pain.

Those that undergo surgical intervention have great success and are able to fully return to function and sport. It is recommended to attend physical therapy following surgery to strengthen, regain normal range of motion and learn joint protection strategies to prevent further injury.


Tendonitis and Bursitis: How Do I Get Rid of it?


Tendonitis is inflammation of a tendon. Tendons are the tissue that connects a muscle to a bone. Bursitis is inflammation of a bursa. A bursa is a sac of fluid that decreases friction and irritation between a bone and the soft tissue. Both of these parts can become inflamed if they are rubbing on an area, being pinched, strained, or compressed. The key is finding out what is causing them to be inflamed so that the problem can be fixed.


Anti-inflammatories and cortisone injections can help to decrease the inflammation so that you feel less pain, but they don’t solve the problem as to why you have the pain to begin with. Typically, if you change nothing and take the anti-inflammatory option, you will see relief of your pain, maybe even for a length of time, but more than likely the pain will return because there’s a reason the tendon or bursa is becoming inflamed.


A good physical therapist is your best route to find relief and maintain it going forward. The physical therapist can determine why you are getting the inflammation and then treat it so that the pressure or friction, etc is removed from the area. The key to long term relief is learning how to use the surrounding muscles and stretch effectively to decrease the inflammation.


The Key to Hip Pain: Physical Therapy!


Hip pain is almost always treated conservatively and for good reason, it works! Physical therapy can work with you to find the source of your pain and train you to use muscles to support your joint and learn ways to decrease strain to your hip joint so that you can function normally.


If you’re having hip pain and not sure where to start or you have more questions, then you need to schedule a No-charge phone consultation with me! It’s free and effective in determining if what you have going on is something that physical therapy can help you with or what might be the next best step for you. We will discuss your goals and a plan for you to get you out of pain the quickest! You can schedule your consultation by clicking here.

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