If you’ve been missing soccer or tennis matches and haven’t been able to get through your normal exercise routine because of chronic hip pain, it’s time to visit the doctor. Pain in your hip, groin, or both that has continued for a number of weeks is a sign that your body’s mechanics in that area aren’t working properly. You may have a condition called hip impingement, which means that the head of the thigh bone doesn’t fit exactly as it should into the hip socket.
The round top of your thigh bone — called the femoral head — normally fits snugly into your hip socket like a baseball fits into a well-used glove. A protective lining of smooth cartilage cushions the space between the top of the thigh bone and the hip socket so they don’t rub against each other, which would be very painful. The socket also has special cartilage — called the labrum — that helps hold the head of the thigh bone in place in the hip socket.
Hip impingement can occur any time, but it often occurs in the teen and young adult years, when you’re more likely to engage in competitive sports and strenuous physical activity.
If you have a hip impingement, orthopedic hip specialist Joshua D. Harris, MD, can give you a thorough evaluation and explain your surgical and nonsurgical options.
Symptoms of hip impingement
Symptoms may be mild at first. You might notice stiffness in your hip or groin. As the condition progresses, the symptoms may become more pronounced. You may experience any of the following symptoms:
- Hip pain when sitting on the floor with your legs crossed and knees near the floor
- Groin or hip pain while turning, twisting, or doing squats
- Lower back pain
- Pain moving into the thigh
Why hip impingement occurs
Sometimes hip impingement is congenital. Your hip ball and socket may have been slightly abnormal from birth. Your hip bones may also have not developed normally during childhood. However, many cases of hip impingement develop in athletes and those who play recreational sports.
Team sports — such as soccer, football, basketball — and individual sports — such as ballet, gymnastics, and golf — can cause repetitive motion injuries that rotate the hip beyond its normal range of motion.
Because of repetitive hip motions, a bone spur can develop and thus deform the ball’s shape. Another form of impingement can occur when bone growth on the thigh bone hits the rim of the socket and grinds it. When hip impingement occurs, the labrum is often torn as well. If impingement isn’t treated, it may lead to arthritis of the hip.
To learn more about hip impingement and to explore your options for treating it, book an appointment online or over the phone with Joshua D. Harris, MD. Dr. Harris is an orthopedic hip specialist who uses the latest techniques for treating hip conditions and injuries.