The hip is a ball-and-socket joint that enables motion and provides stability so you can carry your body weight. The ball part of this joint is the top of the thighbone (femur) and is called the femoral head. It fits into the socket area, called the acetabulum, which is inside the pelvis.
Bands of tissue (ligaments) connect the ball to the socket, stabilizing the hip and forming what’s called the joint capsule. This joint capsule is lined with a thin membrane (synovium), which produces synovial fluid that lubricates the joint. Fluid-filled sacs called bursae provide cushioning where there’s friction between muscle, tendons and bones.
Each hip is surrounded by large muscles that support the joint and enable you to move.
While the hip is one of the most stable joints in the body, it can develop a variety of problems that cause pain, stiffness, swelling and loss of mobility, including various forms of arthritis, traumatic injury including hip fracture, dislocation or tears in the cartilage that surrounds the hip joint, bursitis or tendinitis, even cancer.
Because there are many conditions that can cause hip pain, and some are more serious than others, it’s important to see a specialist for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment, especially if chronic pain is interfering with your everyday activities.
Why Choose Cooper to Treat Hip Problems
Cooper University Health Care has a team of fellowship-trained and board-certified orthopaedic surgeons with extensive experience in diagnosing and treating hip problems. You can count on us for:
- Unparalleled clinical expertise: As part of South Jersey’s only academic health system, our subspecialty-trained orthopaedic surgeons excel at caring for even the most complex and high-risk patients, including those who need revision of previous surgery
- The region’s most trusted referral center: Because of our experience and advanced expertise, Cooper is where the majority of South Jersey’s physicians send their patients for orthopaedic hip care
- The latest surgical techniques and technology: We use today’s most updated techniques for addressing hip pain, including minimally invasive core decompression, bone grafting and joint replacements using the latest implant technology
- A personalized, multidisciplinary approach to care: Some hip problems require a multidisciplinary team approach to care. As an academic health system, Cooper has experts in more than 75 specialties, giving you streamlined access to all the expertise you need, all in one place.
Causes and Risk Factors for Hip Problems
There are many causes of hip problems. Some of the most common include:
- Arthritis: Certain types of arthritis commonly affect the hip, including osteoarthritis (OA), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus)
- Avascular necrosis (AVN): Loss of bone caused by impaired blood flow, which can lead to breakdown of the hip joint
- Bursitis: When the fluid-filled sac (bursa) in the hip joint becomes inflamed, it can cause stiffness and pain
- Traumatic injury: Due to a sports injury, motor vehicle accident or fall
- Congenital (present at birth) hip issues: Developmental dysplasia of the hip is a condition where the "ball and socket" joint does not properly form in babies and young children
- Cancer: Tumors that start in or spread to the bone can cause pain in the hips
Some of the most common risk factors contributing to hip problems are:
- Age: Cartilage can wear down as we age; most people experience hip osteoarthritis problems in their 60s and 70s.
- Being overweight: The more you weigh, the more pressure there is on your joints, and the faster degeneration can occur
- Gender: Women are at greater risk of hip osteoarthritis and osteoporosis than men
- Genetics: Up to half of all cases of hip arthritis may be related to genetics
- Previous hip trauma: If you’ve had a hip injury or prior hip surgery, it increases your risk for osteoarthritis in the future
- Playing certain sports: Athletes who play sports that involve sudden twisting or pivoting motions, such as soccer, football, hockey, golf and basketball, are at higher risk of hip injury
- Medications (such as steroids) that cause bone loss
- Osteoporosis—thinning of the bones—is a risk factor for hip fracture
- Balance issues increase the risk of falling and a suffering hip injury
Symptoms of Hip Problems
The most common symptoms of a hip problem are:
- Pain in the hip or, depending on what’s causing the pain, you may feel discomfort in your buttocks, groin or thigh
- Stiffness and decreased range of motion
- Pain that gets worse with activity (standing, sitting, walking, sleeping or exercising)
- Decreased mobility
Treating Hip Problems
The treatment for hip problems depends on the cause, how severe your symptoms are and your overall health. Treatment options may include:
- Medications: Medications that provide pain relief, relieve inflammation, slow bone loss or prevent joint damage are a key part of treatment for many hip problems
- Physical therapy/exercise: Exercises that target the hip can help maintain your range of motion and strengthen the muscles that support the hip, while stretching muscles and tendons can help with pain relief
- Surgery: When joint pain isn’t helped by conservative treatments, hip surgery often offers a solution. Procedures available today include total joint replacement, arthroscopy, joint resurfacing, osteotomy or synovectomy. Today, most surgical procedures on the hip can be performed minimally invasively.