Hip Pain In Athletes

Athletic Hip Injuries

PhotoAlto/Sandro Di Carlo Darsa / Getty Images

Hip pain in athletes is a common cause of discomfort and can be a frustrating problem to treat. In the past, just about any hip pain symptom was attributed to a "muscle strain" type of injury. While this is a common cause of hip pain in athletes, we are learning more and more about other causes for hip pain that can sideline a player from action.

  • Hip Bursitis: Inflammation of the bursa over the outside of the hip joint, so-called trochanteric bursitis, can cause pain with hip movement. Treatment of hip bursitis is often effective, but the condition has a problem of coming back and sometimes becoming a persistent problem.
  • Contusions (Hip Pointer): A direct blow to the outside of the hip causes an injury to one of the large bones of the pelvis, the ileum. When a contusion is sustained in an athlete over the outside of the hip, the injury is called a hip pointer.
  • Stress Fractures: Stress fractures of the hip are usually seen in long distance runners, and much more commonly in women than in men. These injuries are usually seen in endurance athletes with deficient nutrition or eating disorders.
  • Hip Labral Tear: The labrum of the hip is a cuff of thick tissue that surround the hip socket. The labrum helps to support the hip joint. When a labral tear of the hip occurs, a piece of this tissue can become pinched in the joint causing pain and catching sensations. Much more has been learned about hip labral tears, to the point that some orthopedic surgeons are concerned these injuries are overdiagnosed. However, some patients with hip labral tears can find improvement with treatment of this condition.
  • Femoroacetabular Impingement: Femoroacetablar impingement, often referred to as FAI, is a condition where bone spurs form along the edges of the ball-and-socket hip joint and cause limited mobility of the joint and damage to soft-tissues including the labrum. FAI is thought by many surgeons to be a precursor to arthritis of the hip joint.
  • Osteitis Pubis: Osteitis pubis is thought to be due to the repetitive pull of muscles over the front of the hip joint. Usually pain is activity related and often seen in runners, soccer players and hockey players. The x-rays may show signs causing concern for infection, but osteitis pubis usually resolves with rest and anti-inflammatory medications.
  • Sports Hernias: Sports hernias are a problem seen most commonly in hockey players, but can be seen in other sports that require repetitive twisting and turning at high speeds. The problem is thought to be due to an imbalance of the strong muscles of the thigh and the relatively weaker muscles of the abdomen.
  • Snapping Hip Syndrome: Snapping hip syndrome is a word used to describe three distinct hip problems. The first is when the IT band snaps over the outside of the thigh. The second occurs when the deep hip flexor snaps over the front of the hip joint. Finally, tears of the cartilage, or labrum, around the hip socket can cause a snapping sensation.

Continue Reading