The hip joint is a ball and socket joint with the head of the femur being inserted into a socket formed by the bones of the pelvis. In adults the bones of the pelvis have completely fused adding to stability of the joint, while in children fusing of the pelvis is not yet complete. An example of differences between men and women, in women the cartilage which connects the bones in the pelvis is designed to soften during pregnancy to allow the bones to pull apart slightly which destabilizes the hip joints and accounts for the distinctive gait women acquire during pregnancy.
The bones of the hip joint are covered by a layer of hyaline cartilage also known as articular cartilage. This cartilage is smooth and very durable and designed to move without friction and to hold up under compression, stress and pressure. The bones of the joint are further stabilized with ligaments and muscles which hold the bones in place and allow the hip a full range of motion. One of the primary functions of the hip joint is to stabilize the body. The human body, in order to walk, has required considerable adaptations in order to walk upright and the hip joint is one of the most critical adaptations. The hip joint stabilizes the body and distributes the weight of the upper body and legs evenly. The joint provides stability when stationary or walking by the network of ligaments for support. Like other weight bearing joints the hip may be at risk for wear and tear arthritis or osteoarthritis, the most common form of the disease.
Arthritis is one of the most frequent causes of hip pain. The first sign may be discomfort and stiffness in the buttock or thigh area when waking up in the morning. This will often be accompanied by a loss of movement. The pain is worse with activity and improves with rest. The effects of osteoarthritis cannot be reversed, however, early non-surgical treatment may help avoid the majority of the pain, disability and slow the progression of the disease. Resting the hip from overuse is often the first treatment for hip pain. Resting the hip joint allows the acute inflammation to subside. Physical therapy is an important part of almost all orthopaedic conditions. Regular exercise such as swimming, water aerobics or cycling may keep the joint functioning and to improve its strength and range of motion. Simple weight loss can reduce the stress of weight bearing joints. Losing weight can result in reduced pain and increased function. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories are commonly prescribed to help relieve hip pain and reduce swelling. Anti-inflammatories are available in both over-the-counter and prescription form.
Hip pain is challenging because most any activity requires constant use of the hips. The pain may be due to problems with the bone or injury to the muscles, tendons or bursa. Common orthopaedic problems include arthritis, avascular necrosis, bursitis, femoral acetabular impingement syndrome, fractures of the hip, hip pointer and hip osteonecrosis or labral tears. Differentiation among the above conditions may require the expertise of an orthopaedic surgeon. TriState Orthopaedic Treatment Center is well versed in all conditions of the hip and is an excellent source of information, as well as diagnoses of common orthopaedic hip problems. The most common hip problems include osteoarthritis and the surgical treatment of hip replacement. TriState Orthopaedic Treatment Center prides itself in the expertise and success in the treatment of many common orthopaedic hip conditions.