Guide to Hips

Anatomy

The hip is one of the largest weight-bearing joints in the body. When it’s working properly, it lets you walk, sit, bend, and turn without pain. To keep it moving smoothly, a complext network of bones, cartilage, muscles, ligaments, and tendons must all work in harmony.

The hip is a very stable ball-and-socket joint: A ball (femoral head) at the top of the thighbone (femur) fits into a rounded socket or cup-like cavity (acetabulum) in your pelvis. Bands of tissues called ligaments form a capsule connecting the ball to the socket and holding the bones in place.

A layer of smooth tissue called cartilage cushions the surface of the bones, helping the ball to rotate easily in the socket. Fluid-filled sacs (bursae) cushion the area where muscles or tendons glide across bone. The capsule surrounding the joint also has a lining (synovium) that secretes a clear liquid called synovial fluid. This fluid lubricates the joint, further reducing friction and making movement easier.

Hip Anatomy

Damaged Hip

Injury or disease can damage your hip in several ways, resulting in a broken or deteriorated bone, irritated bursae, or worn cartilage. Damaged cartilage leads to various forms of arthritis. The three most common types are:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Traumatic arthritis

Other Patient Education List

  • American Medical Association
  • American Society for Surgery of the Hand - ASSH
  • American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons - AAOS
  • American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery
  • North American Spine Society - NASS
  • American Association of Hip & Knee Surgeons - AAHKS