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The hip joint is one of the most important joints in the human body. It allows us to walk, run, and jump. It bears our body’s weight and the force of the strong muscles of the hip and leg. Yet the hip joint is also one of our most flexible joints and allows a greater range of motion than all other joints in the body except for the shoulder.
The hip joint is a ball-and-socket synovial joint formed between the pelvis and the top of the thigh bone, called the femur. The round cup-shaped acetabulum on the pelvis, forms the socket for the hip joint. The rounded head of the femur forms the ball of the joint.
"Articular cartilage" lines socket and covers the ball, providing a smooth cushioned surface for the moving bones to glide past each other. Articular cartilage also acts as a flexible shock-absorber to prevent the collision of the bones during movement. Between the layers of cartilage, synovial membranes secrete watery synovial fluid to lubricate the joint capsule.
Surrounding the hip joint are many tough ligaments that prevent the dislocation of the joint. The strong muscles of the hip region also help to hold the hip joint together and prevent dislocation.
Functionally, the hip joint enjoys a very high range of motion. In addition to being flexible, each hip joint must be capable of supporting half of the body’s weight along with any other forces acting upon the body. During running and jumping, for example, the force of the body’s movements multiplies the force on the hip joint to many times the force exerted by the body’s weight. The hip joint must be able to accommodate these extreme forces repeatedly during intense physical activities.
Injuries, wear and tear, or even congenital and developmental conditions can cause damage to the hip. This can lead to pain stiffness and limitations in activities. Below are some of the common disorders, and treatment options to help restore function and activity.