Objective: The purpose of this study was to present a narrative review of the literature of musculoskeletal causes of adult hip pain, with special attention to history, physical examination, and diagnostic imaging.
Methods: A narrative review of the English medical literature was performed by using the search terms “hip pain” AND “anterior,” “lateral,” and “posterior.” Additionally, specific entities of hip pain or pain referral sources to the hip were searched for. We used the PubMed search engine through January 15, 2016.
Results: Musculoskeletal sources of adult hip pain can be divided into posterior, lateral, and anterior categories. For posterior hip pain, select considerations include lumbar spine and femoroacetabular joint referral, sacroiliac joint pathology, piriformis syndrome, and proximal hamstring tendinopathy. Gluteal tendinopathy and iliotibial band thickening are the most common causes of lateral hip pain. Anterior hip pain is further divided into causes that are intra-articular (ie, labral tear, osteoarthritis, osteonecrosis) and extra-articular (ie, snapping hip and inguinal disruption [athletic pubalgia]). Entrapment neuropathies and myofascial pain should also be considered in each compartment. A limited number of historical features and physical examination tests for evaluation of adult hip pain are supported by the literature and are discussed in this article. Depending on the clinical differential, the gamut of diagnostic imaging modalities recommended for accurate diagnosis include plain film radiography, computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, skeletal scintigraphy, and ultrasonography.
Conclusions: The evaluation of adult hip pain is challenging. Clinicians should consider posterior, lateral, and anterior sources of pain while keeping in mind that these may overlap.
Author keywords: Hip, Musculoskeletal Pain, Physical Examination, Diagnostic Imaging, Femoroacetabular Impingement, Review
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