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Anatomy of the hips - hip pain can be difficult to diagnose

Hip Pain

The hip or acetabilofemoral joint includes over 70 different ligaments, tendons, muscles and bones and is (with the shoulder) the most flexible joint in the body, slightly different in men and women.

Where’s the pain?

Confusingly, the area that most of us refer to as our hip is actually the pelvis bone. The hip joint itself is deep into the groin.

So “true” hip joint pain is usually felt as pain into the groin.

But my hip still hurts!

Pain in the outer thigh, buttock or lower back is often attributed to a problem in the hip joint. But they can be quite separate issues.

Bursitis, tendonitis, sciatica, Iliotibial Band Syndrome, referred pain from the lower back or knee . . . these all cause pain in the hip area which isn’t anything to do with the hip joint.

So, as I’ve said again and again, a full and proper physical assessment is important – an X-ray might well show some mild arthritic changes in the hip joint but these might not be causing the current symptoms.

And you can spend a LOT of money and time on the best treatment available but if you are treating the wrong part of the body . . . it’s not going to get better.

Swing your hips

The way you move and walk can also affect your hip. I regularly use video gait analysis to help my patients understand the connection between how their feet, knees, hips and lower back function.

Referred pain from feet, knees and back can cause a lot of hip pain.

No it’s definitely arthritis in my hip

There are 3 main routes forward depending on how severe the osteoarthritis is:

  1. Do nothing – not my favourite but it is always an option
  2. Get a hip replacement if the joint is severely damaged – but please make sure you get proper rehabilitation afterwards so you don’t end up with back and knee problems in the future!
  3. Magnetic Resonance Therapy – this regenerates the cartilage, ligaments and tendons within the joint and also reduces the painful bone swelling.
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