Hip pain is common in many people, from top-level athletes to the very elderly. Hip injuries are uncomfortable, even excruciating, and frustrating to treat. Whether the cause of hip pain is an injury, a stress condition, or deterioration of the boney structure, hip problems can happen to anyone.
When we observe the human hip, we first notice its robust structure. Dense bones, strong ligaments, and muscles all work together to help you sit, stand, and walk. Like the shoulder, the hip joint is a ball-and-socket type. The bone of the thigh, called the femur is the ball, and it meets the socket of the pelvis at this joint.
Your hips can withstand pressure up to five times your body weight, so the structure must be sound and strong. A joint with the weight and functional load this stressful necessarily requires large tendons, ligaments, and muscles to hold the bones of the joint in place to keep them from dislocating. While problems with the boney joints certainly occur, much of the pain occurs within those soft tissues.
So that the hip joint can move smoothly, the head of your femur and the socket of your pelvis have a cartilage layer about .25 inches thick. This cartilage has synovial fluid made by the synovial membrane, the joint lining.
These two, in combination, are incredibly slippery, three times more than skating on ice and from four to ten times more than a metal-on-plastic hip replacement. Synovial fluid lets us move and flex our joints under high pressure without producing joint wear or pain when moving.
So much of your ability to move, walk, and sit will depend on a healthy hip that it alone can be entirely responsible for the loss of independence.
Hip problems are common, especially when we age. Many medications, therapies, and surgeries today allow many of the common hip problems to be improved or cured.