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Hip Anatomy | Learn about the Hip » Hip Anatomy



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hip anatomy

The hip is a ball and socket joint in the engine room of human locomotion.  The natural motion of the hip allows us to walk, run, swim, cycle, dance (for those of us with rhythm), and enjoy our lives as upright bipeds with grace.  When the cartilage in the hip joint starts to deteriorate, the implications are profound.  People complain of pain, especially when they first start to ambulate.  They develop a limp, and as the disease progresses they start to avoid activities that they enjoy and that are good for the rest of the body and soul.

anatomy of the hip joint and location of the blood supply

In the anatomic illustration above, we see that the hip joint is surrounded by a thick white capsule of tissue that encases the femoral head and the acetabulum.  The blood supply to the femoral head comes from the femoral artery, specifically a branch called the medial femoral circumflex artery, which is an important land mark during surgical treatment of hip disease.  Below, we have two thumbnail images of X-rays of a normal pelvis and a pelvis with osteoarthritis of the hip joint.  If you click on the images, a large version of the picture will launch which makes it much easier to see the annotation describing the various anatomic landmarks.

AP pelvis xray anatomy osteoarthritisIn this xray of an elderly female with osteoarthritis, the joint space of the left hip has been obliterated as the cartilage has deteriorated.  This hip has progressed to the point where there is bone on bone contact.  In addition, the soft tissues (the muscles and the ligaments) about the hip have started to stiffen and contract which is why she stands with an unequal pelvis, giving the left leg an appearance that it is longer than the right.  By convention, X-rays are usually displayed as if the patient were facing the viewer, but most X-rays have a marker on the film itself indicating which is the right or the left side of the patient.


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