Hip pain is a relatively common problem in athletes. The most common culprits of hip discomfort in athletes include overuse syndromes or direct impact injuries, but conditions such as arthritis, bursitis, muscle strain, and nerve irritation can also be to blame. Older athletes are more likely to present with tendinitis in these areas because their growth plates have closed. A number of hip conditions are more prevalent in athletes of certain ages. Transient synovitis is a common diagnosis in the very young, Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease causes bony disruption of the femoral head in prepubescents, and slipped capital femoral epiphysis is seen most commonly in obese adolescent males.
The following are some of the most common hip conditions:
- The hip bursa is a sac of fluid in the joint that reduced friction between the muscles, bones, and tendons. Hip bursitis, also known as trochanteric bursitis, occurs when the bursa becomes inflamed or irritated. Without the cushioning effect of the bursa, pain will occur during most movement of the hip joint.
- Hip labral tears occur when the labrum, a band of cartilage surrounding the hip joint, is injured. These injuries are often the result of stress to the hip joint caused by falling or repetitive twisting motions.
- Hip Pointers are caused by a sudden impact that’s hard enough to bruise your iliac crest (hipbone), greater trochanter (the top of your leg bone), or the surrounding soft tissue.
- Hip osteoarthritis is one of the most common causes of chronic hip pain for both athletes and non-athletes alike. Over time, the smooth, protective cartilage of the hip socket wears down and bare bone is exposed, making movement painful.
- The iliotibial band (also called the IT band) stabilizes the hip and knee joints and can cause pain in one or both joints. The ligament can become tight from overuse, which causes it to rub against the thigh bone.
- Athletes and non-athletes can experience osteoarthritis over time resulting from overuse or natural degeneration. The protective cartilage in the joint will wear down over time and expose the bone, causing pain while bearing weight or during movement.
- The labral cartilage lines the hip joint to cushion and support the joint. Twisting movements, falls, and degeneration of the cartilage can cause a labral tear.
- The piriformis muscle is a small muscle in the buttock region located near the sciatic nerve. It stabilizes the hip joint and helps it externally rotate. Piriformis syndrome occurs when this muscle spasms and compresses the sciatic nerve, causing pain in your lower body.