Introduction to Hip pain
exeter hip anatomyBasic functional anatomy of the hip

The hip joint is a ball and socket type joint. It is composed of the femoral head and the acetabulum. Femoral head is the top part of the thigh bone or the femur and acetabulum is the socket formed by the pelvic bones. Muscles, tendons and ligaments do their part in holding the head of the femur (the ball) in the acetabulum (the socket).

The femoral head and the acetabulum are covered by a smooth shiny material called the articular cartilage. This cartilage serves as a covering for bony surfaces in places where they come in contact with one another. It allows the femoral head to move smoothly inside the acetabulum as and when the leg moves. The synovial fluid provides lubrication and nourishment to the hip joint thereby facilitating easy movement of the joint.


Joint capsule is a strong bag surrounding the hip joint. Ligaments act like strong ropes connecting the bones and providing stability to the hip joint. Ligaments reinforce the joint capsule and help in connecting the femoral head to the acetabulum; they also help prevent the ball from coming out of its socket. Stronger and larger ligaments make the hip joint stable. The labrum, a ring of tissue surrounding the acetabulum, also provides stability to the hip.

Tendons, muscles and bones

Muscles and tendons also offer stability to the joint when the leg is both moving or stationery. Muscles are connected to bones by the tendons. Many muscles surround the hip joint and they play a significant part in case of activities like walking, jumping and running.

The hamstring muscles are present in the hind part of the leg and they act along with the gluteus maximus in order to help move the leg backwards at the hip region. Iliopsoas and rectus femoris are hip flexors that move the leg forward at the hip joint. Adductor magnus and adductor longus are the groin muscles that move the leg towards the midline of the body. The gluteus medius, gluteus minimus and the tensor fascialata are muscles that move the leg away from body and help stabilize the hip joint during activities like weight bearing.

All these muscle groups are necessary to maintain the normal functioning of the hip.


There is a small sac of fluid called the bursa that reduces friction between the tendons, muscles and bones. Bursa of the greater trochanter is the key bursa of the hip joint. It is present outside of the hip joint.

Hip pain is very common and can have many different causes. It occurs more commonly in certain age groups such as between the ages of 0-15 and older the 45.

In many cases hip pain can go away on its own accord, however if it persists and is concerning you it is worth getting your hip examined. In the majority of cases in the UK (NHS, 2014) hip pain is due to osteoarthritis and often develops gradually. Here at Estuary Clinic or experienced team of physiotherapists or Osteopaths always carry out a thorough case history.

This is followed by systemic, orthopaedic and postural examinations to assist in identifying the cause of your pain, enabling us to to give you the best advice, support, treatment or referral.



Osetoarthritis of the hip is one of the most common presentations of hip pain and is due to increased wear and tear within the joint, hence why it is more common as we get older. Breakdown of articular cartilage This wear and tear can cause mild inflammation in the tissues. damage to the cartilage and osteophytes (small bony growths) can also occur.It can affect one or both hips and lead to symptoms such as pain, stiffness and


The sciatic nerve orginates from the lower back, travels through the buttock and then down the leg, impingement or irritation can occur anywhere along here. Most commonly its only affects one side, and is characterised by pain, tingling, burning sensation and/or numbness.


Hip fractures are often the result of a trauma or falls, especially in the case of people with osteoporosis (weak and fragile bones). The fracture can be inside or outside of the joint. Symptoms of a hip fracture can be unable to weight bear, not being able to lift or move your leg and the leg of the affected side being shorter or turning out. An X-ray and occasional an MRI is required for diagnosis.

Hip bursitis 

Bursa are a fibrous fluid filled sac that reduces friction in the joint. There are many bursae around the hip joint and inflammation can occur with friction, trauma and occasionally infection.

Iliotibial Band Syndrome 

Also know as runners knee, Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITB) is when the ITB rubs on the side of the outside of the knee causing inflammation, pain and soreness. Factors such as a tight ITB, weak gluteus medius and poor biomechanics may predispose to this happening.

Recommended treatments

Diagnostic Skills
Trained in Orthopaedics
Manual Therapy Usage
Exercise Advice Usage
Diagnostic Skills
Trained in Orthopaedics
Manual Therapy Usage
Exercise Advice Usage

All our acupuncturist are highly skilled in the use of acupuncture for Knee pain. We use both Traditional and Medical Acupuncture dependant upon the practitioners chose or individuals suitability.

Knee Pain News & Articles

Keep up to date with the latest news and articles on knee pain from the Estuary Clinic of Integrated Health.