Hip joint

The hip joint is a synovial joint between the femoral head and the acetabulum of the pelvis. This article considers the hip joint specifically, however it is worth noting that the word hip is often used to refer more generally to the anatomical region around this joint.

The hip joint is a ball and socket joint that represents the articulation of the bones of the lower limb and the axial skeleton (spine and pelvis). The rounded femoral head sits within the cup-shaped acetabulum.

The acetabulum is formed by the three bones of the pelvis (the ischiumilium and pubis). Between them is a Y-shaped cartilaginous growth plate (the triradiate cartilage) which is usually fused by age 14-16. The ball and socket articulation allows for a high degree of mobility. The acetabular labrum increases the depth of the joint 1, thereby increasing the stability of the joint but causes a reduction in the movement at the joint. In comparison to the shoulder joint it permits less range of movement due to the increased depth and contact area, but displays far more stability.

The acetabulum covers nearly half of the femoral head, a grip that gets accentuated by the addition of the acetabular labrum, a fibrocartilaginous lip that extends around the acetabulum and crosses the equator of the femoral head.

The joint is surrounded by a fibrous capsule, which is attached to the acetabulum, and then attaches to the proximal aspect of the femur 1. Thickenings of this capsule constitute the ischiofemoraliliofemoral and pubofemoral ligaments.

There are a number of different muscles that permit flexion/extension, adduction/abduction, and internal/external rotation of the hip joint. See: Hip muscles.

Subtendinous, iliopectineal and greater trochanteric bursae, and bursae between gluteus maximus and vastus lateralis exist near the joint 1.

The cruciate and trochanteric anastomoses supply the joint in adults 2. A branch from the posterior branch of the obturator artery may also be present in the ligamentum teres.

  • anterior hip joint drains to deep inguinal nodes
  • posterior and medial hip joint drain to internal iliac nodes 4 

There is nerve supply to the femoroacetabular joint provided by the femoralobturator and superior gluteal nerves, and the nerve to quadratus femoris 2.

Anatomy: Lower limb
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Article information

rID: 28142
Section: Anatomy
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Hip

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