2022-12-20 10:30:37 By : Mr. Vic lin

Injuries to the hip are common in many sports and are often due to overuse. But contact sports present an even greater chance of a sports-related hip injury.

One of the most common impact injuries is known as a hip pointer. It can result in pain and an inability to participate in your sport. What’s more, it can make normal daily activities such as coughing and sneezing painful as well.

A hip pointer is an injury to the hip region, usually the iliac crest or bony upper hip area — think of the bony area where you rest your hands on your hips. The injury causes a contusion or hematoma — aka a bad bruise — at the area of impact.

A hematoma occurs when blood vessels in the area of impact are broken, thereby causing blood to accumulate in the area. This causes clotting and fluid buildup in the area, which puts pressure on the tissues and nerves in that area.

There are several muscles that attach to this area of the pelvis, most notably the obliques, transverse abdominis, and the upper gluteal muscles. Sometimes these muscles can avulse — or pull off from the bone — when the muscle overly contract, overpowering their attachment to the bone.

The glutes power the body during activities such as walking, running, and jumping. The abdominal muscles listed above play a role in trunk movement and stabilization during a variety of activities, such as hitting a baseball or even laughing.

Thus a hip pointer injury can disrupt the normal function of these muscles, making all types of movements and activities painful.

Hip pointers are caused by a direct blow to the body. Often, a hip pointer is a sports injury from a collision with another player or impact from an object such as a ball or stick. Think of a hockey player getting checked into the wall, with most of the force of the impact at the hip, or a lacrosse player hit by an opponent’s stick.

A hip pointer can also result from falling on the hip, for example, if a soccer player goes to kick a ball but lands directly on the bony part of their upper hip. This injury may also result from a muscle contraction that overpowers their attachment to the bone.

A hip pointer results in intense localized tenderness of the area of impact, especially with direct pressure (i.e., poking it). It is common to have swelling and bruising in the area as well, but it is not always visible.

The range of motion at your hip may also be limited. This is usually due to pain and may result in a limp. The upper gluteal (abductor) muscles will often also often be weak, making it difficult to stand on one leg or to lie on your side and lift your leg in the air.

Hip pointer injuries are typically diagnosed by the nature of the injury. For instance, did the injury occur due to a forceful impact or fall? The site of the injury is another indicator, because hip pointers are localized to the iliac crest area of the hip.

Your medical professional is also looking for bruising and swelling at and around the area of injury. In addition, range of motion is often limited at the hip and there is usually weakness in lifting the leg in the air from a side lying position (also known as abduction).

Consequently, the strength of flexing and extending the hip should be normal.

Your doctor may order X-rays, MRIs, or CT scans to rule out more serious issues such as fractures or myositis ossificans (bony formation inside your muscles).

The risk of these two conditions is higher in teenagers and young adults because the hip bones may not have fully fused yet. In this case, typically the athlete would complain of severe pain and difficulty putting weight on the leg.

Likewise, in adolescents whose bones have not fully grown, there may be the need to rule out injury at the growth plates as well.

Hip pointer management is typically conservative. This includes rest, icing the area, and possibly compression to the area. In addition, anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen may be taken to manage pain.

As pain decreases, you should start to perform gentle motion to the area that doesn’t increase pain. As this improves, gentle strengthening (such as isometric exercises and abduction leg lifts) can be added.

If there is a significant hematoma present, your doctor may drain it or, more commonly, administer a corticosteroid injection to manage it.

The typical acute recovery time from a hip pointer is 1-3 weeks, but it can vary depending on the severity of the injury. A full recovery, wherein the soft tissues heal, can take 8–12 weeks in total.

The length of recovery also depends on how you return to exercise. If you push too hard, too quickly, or the opposite, preventing movement once your healing has begun, both can lengthen recovery.

Complications for a hip pointer typically occur if a more serious issue is present, such as a fracture or bony formation in the muscle. Additionally, if there is a hematoma, it can cause nerve compression which may cause increased weakness in certain muscles and possibly numbness.

A hip pointer feels like intense pain at the top of the pelvis or between the pelvis and the bony part of the lateral hip. Movement and walking can be painful to perform.

As the swelling subsides, it’s good to perform light stretching and massage if it helps decrease pain and improve mobility. Make sure these strategies don’t increase your pain. If they do, consult a medical professional.

If you are in a sport or activity where impact to the hip or pelvis and falls are likely, then you may benefit from wearing hip protectors. These can be padding added to pants or compression shorts with padding around the hip.

No. It is more of an injury to the soft tissue and bony surface. However, swelling can affect the nerve.

Surgery is typically not needed for a hip pointer. However, if there is a hematoma of significant size, your medical team may choose to drain it — a procedure which also may help relieve pain.

Hip pointers can be frustrating due to the pain and limitations they can cause. However, most people experiencing a hip pointer injury can recover rather quickly.

Still, it’s important to see a doctor for a full evaluation. It’s important to make sure something more serious is not occurring, and to not push recovery too quickly.

Give your body the rest it needs, and you’ll be back in action in no time.

Last medically reviewed on July 25, 2022

Our experts continually monitor the health and wellness space, and we update our articles when new information becomes available.

Here's what you should know about hip flexor strain, including what causes it and how to treat it.

Sports injuries can happen during regular exercise or while playing a sport. They’re especially common in children and younger adults. Find out all…

Hip pain is a common symptom of ankylosing spondylitis (AS) and can affect mobility and quality of life. Here's what we know about how to treat it.

Girls are more susceptible to a variety of sports injuries, but training programs could prevent about half of them.

If you're experiencing hip pain after spinal fusion surgery, you're not alone. This relatively common side effect can have multiple causes.

Periacetabular osteotomy is surgery to correct a dislocated hip (hip dysplasia). Usually, this condition has been present since birth. We explain what…

Learn what's involved in a total hip arthroplasty, including ideal candidates, procedure, risks, recovery, and more.

Experts say they expect the number of hip fractures worldwide to double by 2050, increasing the need for prevention and new treatments