The hip is a ball and socket joint that allows the upper leg to move front to back and side to side. The largest weight bearing joint in the body, the hip joint is surrounded by strong ligaments and muscle.
Also called the thigh bone, the femur is the bone for the upper portion of the leg. It is the longest, largest and heaviest bone of the body. The femoral head is the top ball-like end of the femur. The femoral head fits into the socket of the pelvic bone to form the hip joint. Cartilage on the head cushions the joint in the socket, allowing smooth rotation. The femoral neck supports the femoral head. Its length allows for maximum leverage and rotation. Two hip bones come together to form a girdle at the bottom of the body called the pelvis. It carries and transmits weight from the upper body to the lower limbs in standing or sitting positions. Each hip bone is divided into three sections: the ilium, the ischium and the pubis.
The cavity in the pelvis, the acetabulum, firms the socket that holds the femoral head. The acetabular labrum is the soft tissue that extends out from the socket. The femoral head ligament connects the femoral head to the acetabulum. Three strong ligaments attach the femur bone to the pelvis. They stretch over the joint for strength and support.
Because it is involved in most day-to-day activities like standing and walking, hip pain is a common problem. Although the hip joint is designed to withstand repeated wear and tear, age, overuse and injury can lead to hip pain. Frequent causes include arthritis, hip fractures, bursitis, tendinitis and muscle or tendon strain. To learn about some of the most common hip injuries and conditions, view the videos below.