The hip is a ball (femoral head) and socket (acetabulum) joint. It is a very stable joint which is why it does not dislocate easily like a shoulder. Subtle variation in anatomy predisposes this joint to injury or arthritis. The hip joint is so forgiving that these anatomic differences cause little or no discomfort in the early years.
The hip joint is surrounded by structures like the labrum, muscles and tendons. When these are injured, they are often referred to as "hip pain".
What can I do?
"Groin strain" is a broad term that can mean injury to the labrum which is a C-shaped structure surrounding the socket, or one of many tendons that surround the hip.
Rest, anti-inflammatory (NSAIDs) medication, and crutches can help relieve any acute pain. Ice packs help with swelling. Gradual stretching exercises and physiotherapy program are the mainstay of treatment in the acute setting.
When should I see a specialist?
Sometimes the pain does not go away even after rest, tablets and physiotherapy. In these cases, a simple investigation like an x-ray may reveal a missed fracture, or subtle underlying anatomy. A specialist can diagnose and treat symptoms that persist.
Chronic Symptoms Include :
- Pain in the groin (located deep along the "underwear" line)
- Pain when sitting down for a long period of time like in the movies or a long car ride.
- Pain when you put on pants or belt that are tight.
- Stiffness in the hip when you have been sitting down for a while.
- You are unable to stand or walk for long.
- You are unable to lift your leg unaided onto your bed.
- Clicking, locking, grinding, catching and giving way.
- You are unable to perform work or sports at the same level as you did pre-injury.
What surgeries are available?
Keyhole surgery (arthroscopy) is a rapidly advancing technique and is innovative for the hip. It is beneficial in early stages only. However, once arthritis sets in, hip arthroscopy is less useful.
It is used to treat a torn labrum, remove loose bodies, excise abnormal bone, excise tight structures and clean up areas of inflammation.
Open procedures mean making an incision to access the problem areas around the hip or deep into the hip itself (arthrotomy). This is reserved for procedures such as reattaching torn muscles, or bone that is pulled away from its normal position, or fractures (broken bone) around the hip.