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Orthopedics 101: Understanding the Different Types of Hip Injuries

November 22, 2016
Published in: Joint

Illustration showing an inflamed hip from injury

Hips are prone to a variety of injuries, some of which can occur even if the joint is healthy. Others are the result of osteoporosis or other conditions that increase the vulnerability of this joint.

If you are experiencing hip pain and aren't certain what may be causing it, read on for a list of the most common types of hip injuries and an overview of potential treatments.

Hip Fracture

A hip injury like a break or a fracture in someone with healthy bones is usually the the result of severe trauma, like a car accident.Anyone can break or fracture their hip, no matter their age. However, this type of hip injury is more common in people over the age of 65.

A young person with healthy bones will have to experience a more severe trauma to break or fracture their hip, like a car accident. On the other hand, an older person with osteoporosis (a condition that weakens bones) could fracture their hip from a simple fall.

Symptoms of a fractured or broken hip include:

  • Severe pain in the hip or groin area
  • Inability to place weight on the leg attached to the injured hip
  • Stiffness, swelling, and bruising of the hip and surrounding area
  • Inability to move immediately following a fall
  • The leg attached to the injured hip turns outwards

Unfortunately, there are limited treatment options for a fractured or broken hip. Treatment usually consists of surgery, rehabilitation, and medication. You should see your doctor immediately if you have experienced even the slightest trauma and are exhibiting any of the aforementioned symptoms.


Bursae are fluid-filled sacs between the joint and soft tissues, which reduce friction. These can become inflamed and cause severe hip pain. This condition is known as bursitis. Bursitis is often the result of repetitive minor trauma to the area or due to a major injury. Age and overuse can also be factors that lead to hip bursitis.

Symptoms include pain, especially after long periods of inactivity or repetitive activity. The joint may also feel stiff and achy at all times. You may also find it difficult to move due to the severity of the pain.

Hip treatment options for bursitis include medication, physical therapy, injections, temporary use of an assistive device, and, in extreme cases, surgery.


If your hip pain stems from a dislocation and the doctor finds your femur has been fractured in the process, surgery will be necessary to correct both problems.Dislocation of the hip occurs when the ball found at the top of the femur slips out of its socket. This type of hip injury causes intense pain and will prevent you from being able to move your leg. Dislocating your hip requires a lot of force, like from a major fall or being in a car accident. People with a shallow hip socket or hip dysplasia are more susceptible to dislocation.

Symptoms include severe pain, the leg attached to the injured hip may be shorter than the healthy leg, and the leg may also be in an abnormal position.

Treatment involves going to the emergency room, where your hip will be X-rayed. If the doctor finds no evidence of a fractured femur, you'll likely be treated on the spot. You'll be given medication to treat the pain and relax your muscles, after which the doctor will slip the head of the femur back into its socket.

Labral Tear

A labral tear is a hip injury where the cartilage surrounding the bony edge of the socket in the pelvis becomes damaged. This can be caused by a hip injury where the joint is twisted, such as a fall or accident. It may also occur when the hip is repeatedly stressed, especially in the early stages of osteoarthritis.

Symptoms include pain in the front area of the hip or groin, a catching or clicking sensation in the hip, stiffness, or a limited range of motion in the hip.

Some of the hip treatment options for labral tears include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen to alleviate pain and physical therapy to increase range of motion and improve the strength and stability of the hip.

If other treatment options don't offer results, your doctor will recommend surgery.

If you have suffered any hip injury or are experiencing hip pain, the Augusta Health Joint Center can help. Give us a call at (540) 332-5047 today.