The hip joint is a ball-and-socket joint where the upper end (head) of the thigh bone (femur) joins with the socket (acetabulum) of the pelvis. It allows for motion and gives the stability needed to bear body weight.
The hip is the area located on each side of the pelvis. The pelvis bone is made up of 3 sections:
- Ilium- The broad, flaring portion of the pelvis.
- Pubis- The lower, rear part of the pelvis.
- Ischium- One of the bones that helps form the hip
The hip is one of the most stable joints in the body. As it bears your body weight, it is more likely to develop arthritis because of the extra pressure. Pain in the hip may be caused by injury to muscles, tendons, or the small fluid-filled sacs (bursae) that cushion and lubricate joints.
WHAT IS HIP INSTABILITY?
Stability to your hip is brought about by the ligaments in your hip. However, when injury to these ligaments or tissues occur, this results in hip instability which results in a loose or unstable hip joint.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF HIP INSTABILITY?
Symptoms of hip instability include:
- Experience snapping, clicking or popping sensations (crepitus) in any part of the hip when carrying out activities
- Deep aching pain in the hip joint
- Feeling that the hip will dislocate when placing weight on the leg
- Can no longer walk normally
- You may be able to bring the hip out of joint and place it back into joint voluntarily
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES AND RISK FACTORS OF HIP INSTABILITY?
Common causes of hip instability include:
- Injury to the hip during motor vehicle and sporting accidents can cause high impact trauma to the hip joint, resulting in instability
- Falling from a height
- Hip dysplasia where some people are born with a poorly formed hip socket (loose hip joint in the socket)
- Genetics (syndromes such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome) causes loose joints in the body
WHAT IS THE DIAGNOSIS OF HIP INSTABILITY?
A history of the injury and a physical examination of the hip will be conducted by the Doctor.
Imaging tests may be taken, such as an x-ray which allows the doctor to see your bones in detail, and a MRI scan to help the doctor see the soft tissues and ligaments around the hip. These imaging tests will help the doctor confirm the diagnosis.
WHAT ARE THE TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR HIP INSTABILITY?
Nonsurgical treatment is usually recommended as the first line of treatment. This includes using a cane or crutch and attending physiotherapy sessions to restore muscle strength and regain your range of motion.
Should nonsurgical treatment methods fail to work, surgery may be recommended. A minimally invasive procedure called a hip arthroscopy will be performed, where tiny incisions are made and a small camera called an arthroscope will be inserted into your hip joint. This projects the images onto a screen and your doctor will use this to guide the tiny surgical instruments.
WHAT IS THE RECOVERY PROCESS AFTER SURGERY FOR HIP INSTABILITY?
If you have undergone surgery for hip instability, you will be able to return home 1 to 2 hours after surgery. You will need someone to drive you home and stay with you at least the first night. Do expect to be on crutches for some period of time, up to 2 months depending on the extent of your hip instability.
You will also be prescribed pain-relief medications and anti-inflammatory drugs to help with managing the pain. Medication such as aspirin may also be provided to help reduce the risks of blood clotting.
Physiotherapy may be recommended as well to help you regain your strength and restore mobility in your hip.