A stress fracture of the hip is a hairline crack in bone which can grow larger, if left unattended. When they occur in the hip, it is usually the result of fatigue – a break in normal bone that has been put under extreme pressure. A fatigue fracture can be caused by any strenuous, repetitive activity. For example, by the daily marching and running required of military personnel, especially when carrying loaded rucksacks weighing 60 pounds or more. Distance runners are highly susceptible to fatigue fractures too.
Most stress fractures of the hip usually involve the femoral neck — the short, thinner section of bone that connects the head of the femur to the main shaft of the bone. The femoral neck is under pressure even when you are standing still. Walking and running increase the amount of force placed on the femoral neck. In fact, running triples the force.
If the fracture occurs on the underside of the femoral neck, it is called a compression fracture. If it occurs on the upper side, it is referred to as a tension fracture. A tension fracture can cause more problems than a compression fracture. If the bone cracks all the way through, to the point where the two bones no longer line up correctly, it is a displaced fracture, which can be a very serious problem in young adults. A displaced fracture may lead to damage to the blood vessels serving the upper end of the hipbone, resulting in avascular necrosis.
If you have a fatigue stress fracture of the hip you are also likely to have muscle and tendon injuries and swelling of the synovial lining (the lubricated lining) of the hip joint.
If you feel pain the front of your groin while standing or moving, you may have a stress fracture of the hip. Rest usually makes the pain go away, but it returns when you begin moving again. You may limp. Strenuous, repetitive activities such as running or climbing stairs may become so painful that you avoid doing them.
If you are experiencing this kind of hip pain, it is time to call us at the Zehr Center at 239-596-0100. There are several approaches to dealing with a stress fracture of the hip, from immobilization through hip surgery, depending on the severity and location of the hip fracture.