As a chiropractor, when I ask people to point to their hip pain it is very interesting to see the vast number of places where people point– the low back, the hip pocket area, the side of the pelvis, in the groin and more!
This article will provide information about the human hip, some sources of pain of the hip and introduce ideas pertaining to conservative hip pain relief treatment.
The true hip joint is a ball and socket joint located on either side of our pelvis. The ball part of the joint is from the top of the thigh bone, called the femur. The socket part of the joint is an indentation of the side of the pelvis. The hip joint is the largest joint of the body. It is one of the few joints that moves in every direction.
The ball of the joint is held into the socket by strong ligaments. It is also held against the socket by a structure called the labrum. The labrum is a rubbery tissue that forms a rim around the outer edge of the socket. Sometimes hip pain can be attributed to a tear of the labrum. This may be seen on an MRI. However just because the MRI shows a tear, it doesn’t necessarily determine it is the source of pain of the hip. In fact, a research study showed that 66% of a group of people having no hip pain, who underwent MRIs were diagnosed by certified radiologists as having labral tears. Again, these people had no hip pain!
Closely associated with the hip joint are the bones of the pelvis. The pelvis is not just one bone, but is made up of three. The two outside “wing” bones are called the iliac bones. The centrally located “tailbone” is called the sacrum. The joints between the sacrum and either iliac bone are called the sacroiliac joints. These joints are gliding joints, but sometimes they can become misaligned or move improperly. This can cause the pelvis to have improper, altered alignment and/or movement biomechanics. This can cause pain of the sacroiliac joints and can cause associated pain in the hip joints.
Some orthopedic hip specialists may only focus on the hip joint itself when the patient has pain in this area. However, doctors of chiropractic, look at the entire person having hip pain. Chiropractors are trained to identify the origins of hip pain which may arise from the lower back, pelvis, hip, or possibly the knee, ankle and foot. Utilizing information from a careful history, examination, imaging (when appropriate), and functional tests, allow chiropractors to offer a noninvasive, nonsurgical, safe, conservative approach to relief of hip pain.