Hip pain in athletes involves a wide differential diagnosis. Adolescents and young adults are at particular risk for various apophyseal and epiphyseal injuries due to lack of ossification of these cartilaginous growth plates. Older athletes are more likely to present with tendinitis in these areas because their growth plates have closed. Several bursae in the hip area are prone to inflammation. The trochanteric bursa is the most commonly injured, and the lesion is easily identified by palpation of the area. Iliotibial band syndrome presents with similar lateral hip pain and may be identified by provocative testing (Ober's test). A methodical physical examination that specifically tests the various muscle groups that move the hip joint can help determine a more specific diagnosis for the often vague complaint of hip pain. A number of hip conditions are more prevalent in athletes of certain ages. Transient synovitis is a common diagnosis in the very young, Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease causes bony disruption of the femoral head in prepubescents, and slipped capital femoral epiphysis is seen most commonly in obese adolescent males. Femoral neck stress fractures are seen in adult athletes, especially those involved in endurance sports, and can progress to necrosis of the femoral head if not found early. Older athletes may be limited by degenerative joint disease but nonetheless should be encouraged to stay active.
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