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HSS Doctor Helps Athletes Stay 'Hip' During Summer Sports

Dr. Anil Ranawat of Hospital for Special Surgery.
Dr. Anil Ranawat of Hospital for Special Surgery. Photo Credit: Hospital for Special Surgery

PARAMUS, N.J. -- In the summer, more athletes participate in outdoor sports such as basketball, soccer, baseball, flag football, biking, and hiking. It’s important to remember that activities involving more running, heavy impact, falling or overuse can be accompanied by a higher risk of various hip injuries.

Athletes participating in sports with sudden twisting or pivoting motions such as golf, soccer, ballet, hockey and football are at high risk of developing hip labral tears. The labrum is a ring of soft elastic tissue that follows the outside rim of the hip joint. The labrum acts like a socket or seal to hold the “ball” at the top of the femur in place.

A labral tear may cause minimal symptoms or more severe symptoms, like groin pain or locking, clicking, or catching sensations in the hip joint. There may also be stiffness or limited range of motion in the joint. Initial treatment may include anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy. If the athlete still has significant pain, they should be evaluated by an orthopedic surgeon.

Another common cause of hip problems is from direct blows to the outside of the hip, commonly known as “hip pointers.” Although most common in sports like football or hockey, hip pointers can also occur with basketball players, bike riders, climbers, or hikers who have fallen on their hip. Injuries usually resolve over a few weeks and are best treated with conservative measures, but if symptoms persist, an evaluation by an orthopedic surgeon is warranted to rule out labral tears or fractures.

Improper conditioning or inadequate stretching can also lead to a hip injury, like a pulled hamstring. When pulling a hamstring, athletes experience a sudden, sharp pain in the back of the thigh during activity. There may be swelling or tenderness with possible bruising or discoloration along the back of the leg. Fortunately, rest, ice, and over-the- counter pain medication is often all that is needed to relieve symptoms of a mild hamstring strain.

For most sports hip injuries, preventative measures are crucial. Proper stretching and conditioning are helpful in preventing labral tears and pulled hamstrings. Likewise, appropriate padding and proper technique can help prevent hip pointers.

Dr. Anil Ranawat is a sports medicine surgeon at Hospital for Special Surgery. He practices at both the HSS Outpatient Center in Paramus and the hospital’s main campus in New York.

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