Hip Pointer

A hip pointer occurs following an impact to the iliac crest at the top of the hip bone or the greater trochanter or bony protrusion on the outside of the thigh bone.

Symptoms of a hip pointer  

Symptoms of a hip pointer are pain and tenderness when pressing in on the point of injury. There is usually some obvious bruising or swelling. The athlete will experience a reduced range of motion at the hip joint and possibly reduced strength in the muscles around the hip. A full assessment should be undertaken to rule out the possibility of damage to intra-abdominal organs.

What is a hip pointer?

A hip pointer injury occurs following an impact to the iliac crest (hip bone) or greater trochanter (bony protusion at the top of the femur). This is common in sports such as American football. The force of the impact causes a contusion (bruise) of the iliac crest and sometimes an avulsion fracture, where a small part of bone is pulled away by the attached muscle. This area is particularly at risk if it recieves a direct blow as there is limited padding and protection from fat stores.

Bleeding usually occurs around the front and side of the hip, into the abdominals and hip abductors (gluteus medius and minimus). This bleeding causes swelling and makes movement of the hip painful.

Following this type of injury a full assessment should be undertaken to rule out damage to any intra-abdominal organs.

Treatment of a hip pointer

There are some things the patient can do themselves to help treat hip pointers.

What can the athlete do?

Begin treatment by resting, applying ice and compression to the injury. Ice or cold therapy can be applied for 10 minutes every hour initially reducing frequency as required. This will help to reduce or limit any pain, inflammation and swelling.

Visit a sports injury professional who can fully assess the injury to rule out any complications as stated above and advise on a full rehabilitation program with hip stretching and mobility exercises followed by hip strengthening exercises.

What can a sports injury professional do?

Assess the injury for severity and complications. A doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen.  Once pain is decreasing, active range of motion exercises can begin. Sports massage may be used after the acute stage to help reduce swelling, loosen the muscle fibres and prevent the build-up of scar tissue. If there is a large bleed or haematoma,  aspiration may be done which involves draining the fluid off with a needle.

Watch our interview with a Dr Maria Madge (chiropractor) about hip pain.