Hip injuries are a common issue in athletes, especially among those who play high-impact sports. They occur due to the repetitive and quick turning motions (from changing directions) placing excess stress on the hip joint, and potentially lead to wear. Abnormal movements can lead to a hip injury.
Here, Mr Akash Patel, highly skilled consultant trauma and orthopaedic surgeon, provides an in-depth insight into hip injuries sustained in sports. He explains the most common hip injuries, how the risk of injury can be reduced, and when medical attention should be sought, amongst other important points.
What are the most common hip injuries sustained in sports?
Hip injuries sustained in sports can be divided into soft tissues injuries and bony injuries. Soft tissue problems are more common. These include muscle: tears or sprains (for example, groin adductors), labral tears, tendon injuries (for example, hamstring), cartilage injuries (which can lead to osteoarthritis), ‘snapping hip’ (iliopsoas impingement, ITB friction, trochanteric bursitis), osteitis pubis, and femoroacetabular impingement.
Bony or joint injuries include: stress fractures (occurring with chronic and repetitive load, such as whilst running) and acute fractures or dislocations (which are less common and follow a fall).
Are some sports more likely than others to cause a hip injury?
Sports which involve high-impact or repetitive chronic loading through joints are more likely to cause hip injuries. These include running, skiing, football, basketball and tennis, to name a few.
Low-impact sports and exercise, such as swimming, cycling, pilates and yoga, are less likely to cause injuries.
Is there any way to reduce the likelihood of sustaining a hip injury?
There are multiple ways to reduce the risk of hip injuries. These principles can be applied before, during and after sports and activities.
- Muscle strength
Before any sport or activity, it is important to have good baseline muscle strength, balance and range of movement of joints.
- Strengthening exercises
Regular gradual strengthening exercise helps to build muscle, which supports joints and reduces risk of injury.
- Warming up
Balancing exercises, warming up before activity, and stretching regularly help to maintain flexibility, which reduces the risk of muscle tears or sprains.
- Sport gear
Good, comfortable footwear and sport-specific gear is important.
- Sport-specific training
Controlled sport-specific training helps to reduce hip injury risk, as overtraining can increase injury risk.
- Lifestyle habits
Good nutrition and hydration, before and after sport, helps to provide enough energy and aids muscle/body recovery, reducing injury risk. Good quality sleep and rest are also very important in injury prevention.
- Body weight
Maintaining a healthy body weight is good for the hips, heart and health overall!
When should you see a specialist about a hip injury or hip pain?
It is important to have a confirmed diagnosis to guide treatment for hip pain. People should seek medical advice about a hip injury if they have any of the following:
- Inability to bear weight
- Fall or trauma, which causes hip pain
- Severe hip pain
- Deformity of the leg following hip injury
- Inability to move the leg
- Swelling or bruising around the hip or leg
- Chronic hip pain that cannot be relieved by home treatments, such as painkillers or rest
- Night pain
- Any sign of infection (fever, redness, swelling)
What are the do’s and don’ts of recovering from minor hip injuries or pain at home?
These are the things that can help manage hip pain at home:
- Take painkillers (simple over the counter medication like paracetamol can help)
- Ice (if you have swelling after acute injury, this is useful to consider) or heat packs for more chronic issues
- Gentle mobilisation or movements as comfort allows
- Wear comfortable socks or shoes with shock absorbers that take the load
- Maintain a healthy weight, as it is important for the management of chronic hip pain
- Try gentle stretching hip exercises
- Use a walking aid, such as a stick or crutches, as guided by a healthcare professional
- Avoid overloading activities that may exacerbate the pain
- Do not carry heaving loads
- Avoid low chairs (this increases the force passing through the joint, resulting in more pain)
- Avoid repetitive bending that causes pain
If you have recently suffered a hip injury in sports and wish to receive the utmost trauma and orthopaedic expert care, do not hesitate to visit Mr Patel’s Top Doctors profile today.