[TYPE OF JOINT: BALL-and-SOCKET]
Hips have half the mobility of shoulders but a much deeper socket, which makes the joint highly stable—essential for bearing weight, walking, running, jumping, and drunk dancing at weddings.
TOP THREAT: HIP LABRAL TEAR
WHAT IT IS:
An injury of the hip labrum, a gasket-like cartilage ring at the rim of the hip socket that helps hold the ball of the thighbone in place and seals in fluid. Besides causing pain, labral tears raise the risk of hip osteoarthritis.
Usually repetitive motion, such as from long-distance cycling, or collisions in sports. “We see it a lot in cutting sports like soccer and hockey,” Dr. Comeau says. Tennis players are also prone to hip trouble. Former top-ranked pro Andy Murray finally had surgery in January to ease hip issues that had plagued him for years. Abnormal hip anatomy can also contribute.
Physical therapy can help identify and compensate for quirks in your gait or anatomy that may stress the hip, and stretch and strengthen hipsupporting muscles. If these approaches don’t work, a surgeon can use an arthroscope to trim frayed cartilage and reattach the labrum to the socket.
Vary your sports and workouts from day to day to avoid stressing the hip in the same way and to help joints recover.
FUTURE-PROOF YOUR HIPS:
A previous hip injury or normal aging can erode the articular cartilage that lines the hip’s ball and socket and lead to osteoarthritis. As cartilage diminishes and the space between the bones closes, damaged bones may grow out and form spurs that can add to pain and limit movement. To keep your hips young, do bridges, planks, and lunges to strengthen your gluteus, lower back, and hipflexor muscles, which support and stabilize the hips. Don’t do lunges while holding weights, though, to avoid undue stress.
Metal-on-metal implants haven’t worked out as well as expected. The balland-socket combo promised to be exceptionally durable, but the FDA warns that they carry “unique risks,” including the release of metal particles that may damage surrounding bone and/or tissue. Consider alternative bearing surfaces such as ceramic on cross-linked polyethylene instead.
BALL-AND-SOCKET The rounded, ball-like end of one bone fits into the concave surface of another. The design offers superior range of motion, but stability can vary—high in a deep socket, low in a shallow one. Surrounding tendons and ligaments help keep bones in place.