Hip Pain Anatomy

Get information about the structures at the root of your hip pain

The complex anatomy of the hip directly influences the development of disease and injury to this critical joint. The information below provides the background anatomy to guide you through the most common hip problems.


Hip Pain Anatomy

The hip joint is a “ball and socket” joint designed to allow a wide range of motion while remaining stable. Note the primary hip joint structures that make up the normal hip joint.

As an essential weight-bearing joint, used extensively for daily movement, the hip is prone to the development of both injury and degenerative diseases such as arthritis.

Femur Bone - Hip Pain Anatomy - Oklahoma

Hip Femur Bone

Femur: largest bone in the human body

The human femur or thighbone is arguably one of the most important bones in our bodies. Given the femurs role in walking upright and involvement in the most common forms of lower extremity arthritis, this bone plays a vital role in our daily lives.

The femur bone structures directly involved in the hip joint include:

  • Head of the femur
    • Connects the femur to the bony pelvis by fitting into the acetabulum
    • Is covered with articular cartilage that is prone to develop arthritis
    • Common site of avascular necrosis in the hip as well as arthritis bone lesions
  • Neck of the femur
    • Connects the “femoral head” to the “body” of the femur or bony shaft below
    • Common point at which a femur fracture or break may occur from falls
    • Osteoporosis of the hip may increase fracture risks here
  • Greater trochanter
    • Bony, hard prominence you can feel on the outside of your hip
    • An important attachment point for multiple muscle tendons
    • Also a common site of the the development of inflammatory pain or “bursitis”
  • Lesser trochanter
    • A small bony prominence on the inside of the hip
    • Serves as another attachment point for muscles of the hip


Hip Acetabulum - Hip Pain Anatomy - Oklahoma

Hip Acetabulum

The "socket" of the hip

The acetabulum of the hip is the deep concave and cup-like structure in which the head of the femur rests. Formed by the bones of the pelvis, the acetabulum provides a firm and stable joint structure that allows the transfer of weight from the upper body into the lower extremities. When mechanical problems arise in the acetabulum, degenerative arthritis is often a result.

Hip labrum - Hip Pain Anatomy - Oklahoma

Hip Labrum

The liner of the acetabulum

The hip labrum is a tough cartilage connective tissue layer that surrounds the edges of the hip joint acetabulum as it connects with the femoral head. The labrum has a significant role in stabilizing the hip joint while allowing some flexibility at the same time. Given it’s role, it is often exposed to tearing injuries which can contribute to the destabilization and development of degenerative joint disease over the longterm. In addition, the hip labral tear itself can cause a lingering pain due to the tissue damage. The labrum tissue lacks a good blood supply to support healing and this is part of the rationale behind treating hip labral tears with regenerative medicine.

Hip Ligaments, Tendons, & Muscles

A description of each of the ligaments, tendons, and muscles of the hip is beyond the scope of this article. Still, it is essential to generally understand the vital role these structures play in the development of hip pain and dysfunction.

Ligaments of the hip connect, stabilize, and support the bones of the hips just as they do in other joints within the human body. Often, ligament strain, laxity, or tears will contribute to problems within the hip but may be overlooked as a source of issues resulting in pain. Orthobiogen treatment with platelet-derived proteins and growth factors can aid in the healing of these connective tissues.

Hip Muscles, Tendons, LigamentsTendons connect the muscles to the bones and work to transfer the force generated by the muscle into movement at the joints. Hip tendons are around the joint are located near many bursae, which act to reduce and limit friction between tissues. Particularly in the hip, these bursa and tendon interfaces may become overworked and develop inflammation. The term “bursitis” refers to this type of inflammation, which is often diagnosed in the outer hip region at the greater trochanter of the femur bone.

Many muscles enable the hip joint’s fantastic range of motion and stable power. Seventeen different muscles across four general groups provide the basis of hip muscular anatomy. Any of these structures may be injured, including the more common muscle strains and the less frequent muscle or related tendon tear.


Sacroiliac joints and ligaments

Sacroiliac Joints and Hip Pain

Hip pain may be caused by a wide variety of structures, some of which are not actually part of the true hip joint such as the sacroiliac or SI joints. Pain originating from the SI joints may be difficult for some to distinguish from the hip joints due to the radiating nature of sacroiliac joint pain. Another factor to consider is that SI joint pain and hip problems often coexist due to the changes in biomechanics caused by either SI joint problems or hip joint issues.

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