A hip injury can be hard to deal with, both for the child who has the injury and for the parent or caregiver. A child who has a hip injury may feel pain in the hip, groin, thigh, or knee. A child in pain may limp or be unable or unwilling to stand, walk, or move the injured hip. A baby in pain may cry, be fussy, and have other signs of pain.
To better understand hip injuries, it may be helpful to know how the hip works. It is the largest ball-and-socket joint in the body. The thighbone (femur) fits tightly into a cup-shaped socket (acetabulum) in the pelvis. The hip joint is tighter and more stable than the shoulder joint but it does not move as freely. The hip joint is held together by muscles in the buttock, groin, and spine; tendons; ligaments; and a joint capsule. Several fluid-filled sacs (bursae) cushion and lubricate the hip joint and let the tendons and muscles glide and move smoothly. The largest nerve in the body (sciatic nerve) passes through the pelvis into the leg.
A sudden (acute) injury may occur from a fall on a hip, a direct blow to a hip or knee, or abnormal twisting or bending of the leg. Acute injuries include:
- Muscle strain in the hip, groin, or buttock.
- Bruising (contusion) of the hip muscles (hip pointer). Deep muscle bruising may occur with other injuries to the hip. Tenderness and muscle spasm may also be present.
- Dislocated hip, hip fracture, or pelvic fracture . Dislocations and fractures of the hips and pelvis are not often seen in children unless a severe injury (such as a car accident) has occurred.
- Avulsion fracture. This occurs when a muscle forcibly tears away from a bone and breaks a piece of bone.
Treatment for a hip injury depends on the location, type, and severity of the injury as well as the child's age, general health, and activity level. Treatment may include first aid measures; application of a brace, cast, harness, or traction; physical therapy; medicines; or surgery.
Check your child's symptoms to decide if and when your child should see a doctor.