Conditions & Treatments

Hip Problems

The following are some of the most common hip problems: arthritis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, traumatic arthritis, avascular necrosis, bursitis, and hip pointer.

Hip Problems

What is the hip?

Anatomy of the hip joint
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The hip is defined as the region on each side of the pelvis. The pelvis bone is made up of 3 sections, including the following:

  • Ilium. The broad, flaring portion of the pelvis.

  • Pubis. The lower, posterior part of the pelvis.

  • Ischium. One of the bones that helps form the hip.

The hip joint is a ball-and-socket joint that allows motion and provides stability needed to bear body weight.

The socket area, which is inside the pelvis, is called the acetabulum. The ball part of this joint is the top of the leg bone. It joins with the acetabulum to form the hip joint.

The hip is 1 of the most stable joints in the body. But, its function, bearing the body's weight, makes it susceptible to arthritis due to excessive pressure. Pain in the hip may involve injury to muscles, tendons, or bursae (small fluid-filled sacs that cushion and lubricate joints).

What are common hip problems?

The following are some of the most common hip problems:

  • Arthritis. The most common cause of the breakdown of hip tissue. There are 3 kinds of arthritis that commonly affect the hip, including the following:

    • Osteoarthritis. Also referred to as "wear and tear" arthritis; this type of arthritis involves the cartilage that cushions the bones of the hip wearing away, letting the bones then rub together, causing hip pain and stiffness.

    • Rheumatoid arthritis. A disease in which, for unknown reasons, the synovial membrane becomes irritated and produces too much fluid. It damages the cartilage, leading to pain and stiffness.

    • Traumatic arthritis. Often the result of an injury or fracture, there are more than 300,000 hospitalizations for hip fractures in the United States every year.

  • Avascular necrosis. Involves the loss of bone caused by insufficient blood supply, injury, and bone tumors and may lead to breakdown of the hip joint.

  • Bursitis. In this condition, the bursa, a closed fluid-filled sac that functions as a gliding surface to reduce friction between tissues of the body, becomes inflamed. There are 2 major bursae of the hip, both of which can be associated with stiffness and pain around the hip joint, including the following:

    • Trochanteric bursa. The bursa located on the side of the hip and separated significantly from the actual hip joint by tissue and bone.

    • Ischial bursa. The bursa located in the upper buttock area.

  • Hip pointer. A bruise or tear in the muscle that connects to the top of the ilium (the crest of the pelvis, just below the waist). Causes of a hip pointer may include a blow, a fall, or a quick twist or turn of the body.

Treatment Programs


Massachusetts General Hospital understands that a variety of factors influence patients' health care decisions. That's just one reason why we're dedicated to ensuring patients understand their diagnosis and treatment options. Because a single option might not serve all patients, we offer a wide range of coordinated treatments and related services across the hospital. Patients should consult with their primary care doctor or other qualified health care provider for medical advice and diagnosis information.

Select a treatment program for more information:



Imaging

  • Pediatric Imaging
    The Pediatric Imaging Program at Massachusetts General Hospital Imaging specializes in ensuring the safety and comfort of child patients while providing the latest technology and the expertise of specialized pediatric radiologists.
  • Bone and Joint Imaging and Intervention
    The Bone and Joint Imaging and Intervention Program at Massachusetts General Hospital Imaging offers state-of-the-art diagnostic exams including MRI and CT, interpretation by specialty-trained radiologists, and image-guided procedures for the bones, joints, and spine.
MassGeneral Hospital for Children

  • Pediatric Rheumatology Program
    Pediatric rheumatologists at MassGeneral Hospital for Children specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of all rheumatic and inflammatory conditions of infants, children and adolescents.
  • Pediatric Orthopaedics
    The MassGeneral Hospital for Children Orthopaedics Service provides clinical care to infants, children and adolescents, from birth to college age, for the entire spectrum of musculoskeletal problems.
  • Hemophilia and Thrombosis Center
    The Hemophilia and Thrombosis Center at MassGeneral Hospital for Children offers comprehensive evaluations and individualized care to children and adults with bleeding disorders due to hemophilia A, hemophilia B, rare clotting factor deficiencies and von Willebrand disease.
Department of Orthopaedics

  • Hip & Knee Replacement Service
    Our Best of Boston joint replacement surgeons specialize in innovative approaches to total hip replacement and total knee replacement using a variety of minimally invasive techniques and new materials developed by our Harvard faculty.

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