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Facts About the Human Hip

Posted by Joanna Culley on

The body part that we often recognize as the hip is actually part of our upper buttocks, and feeling pain in this area could be related to injuries from the pelvis and the lower back, but not necessarily from the hip joint. To put it simply, the hip is the part of our body that bears most of the weight, and it is located beneath deep layers of strong supporting muscles and ligaments. A healthy hip carries almost 5 times a person’s body weight during an everyday activity such as walking.

This ball-and-socket type of joint is precisely where the femur or thigh bone meets the pelvis. The femur has a rounded ball form at its end that perfectly fits inside the socket-shaped pelvis, which is called the acetabulum. This entire structure is held together by a large amount of ligaments, tendons and muscles that keep it from dislocating or hurting. Both the femoral head and the acetabulum are covered by a cushion-like cartilage called hyaline, and they are also kept lubricated by a fluid made in the synovial membrane. This slippery combination makes us flex and move our hips against each other without pain and with extra flexibility, besides carrying the weight of our entire body.

A strong connection

The hip joint does not only serves as link between the the lower extremities with the axial skeleton, but also allows us to move our bones in three major perpendicular axes, which are the transverse, longitudinal and sagittal. These axes permits the body to flex, extend, rotation and adduction movements.

Do you know where the strongest ligament is?

It is the iliofemoral ligament, which attaches the anterior inferior iliac spine to the crest of the femur, and it is located in the hip joint. This ligament is one of the capsular ligaments that can tighten or relax according to the extension or flexion of the hip.

Can my hip be replaced?

Yes, it can indeed! Most of the time, when hip joints break due to an accident or any other related joint-related injury, this can be replaced with a new ball-and-socket joint made out of metal which such resemblance to the human hip, that the difference would be unnoticeable. Pioneers of hip replacement surgery faced many challenges while trying to come up with materials for prosthetics that would not be rejected by the body, until they made it with metal.

There are more muscles attached to your hip joint than what you think

In fact, there are five different muscle groups that cover or are attached to the hip joint and generate different kinds of movements, such as:

  • Gluteals: The ones in your buttocks, which are subdivided into three different parts: maximus, minimus and medius.
  • Quadriceps: These are four different muscles, (vastus lateralis, medialis, intermedius and rectus femoris), located at the front of the femur.
  • Iliopsoas: The primary hip flexor muscle that connects the lower part of the spine with the pelvis.
  • Hamstrings: Three muscles at the back of the thigh.
  • Groin: Also known as the adductor muscle, which are attached to the pubis.

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