The pain from a hip injury can make it hard to walk, go up and down stairs, squat, or sleep on the side that hurts. A clicking or snapping feeling or sound around your hip joint (snapping hip) may bother you or cause you to worry. However, if your hip is not painful, in most cases the click or snap is nothing to worry about. Home treatment may be all that is needed for minor hip symptoms.
To better understand hip injuries, it’s helpful to know how the hip works. It is the largest ball-and-socket joint in the body. The thighbone (femur) fits tightly into a cup-shaped socket (acetabulum) in the pelvis. The hip joint is tighter and more stable than the shoulder joint but it does not move as freely. The hip joint is held together by muscles in the buttocks, groin, and spine; tendons; ligaments; and a joint capsule. Several fluid-filled sacs (bursae) cushion and lubricate the hip joint and let the tendons and muscles glide and move smoothly. The largest nerve in the body (sciatic nerve) passes through the pelvis into the leg.
Injuries are a common cause of hip problems. You may not remember a specific injury, especially if your symptoms began slowly or during everyday activities.
Overuse injuries occur from repeating the same activity. The repeated activity, such as running or bicycling long distances, stresses the hip joint and may cause irritation and inflammation. Examples of overuse injuries include irritation of the large sac (bursae) that cushions the bones of the hip joint (trochanteric bursitis), irritation of the tendons in the hip (tendinitis), muscle strain, and hairline cracks (stress fracture) in the neck of the thighbone (femur).
A sudden (acute) injury may occur from a fall on the hip, a direct blow to the hip or knee, or abnormal twisting or bending of the leg. Examples of acute injuries that may cause hip pain include:
- A broken hip (hip fracture) or pelvis (pelvic fracture), such as an avulsion fracture.
- A dislocated or sprained hip.
- Muscle strain in the groin or buttocks.
- Severe bruising (contusion).
Treatment for a hip injury depends on the location, type, and severity of the injury as well as your age, general health, and activities (such as work, sports, hobbies). Treatment may include first aid measures; application of a brace, cast, harness, or traction; physical therapy; medicines; or surgery.