image of man stretching his hips outside
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Hip injuries are a common problem in many sports. There is a higher chance of a sports-related hip injury when playing contact sports.

A hip pointer is a common impact injury. It can cause pain and make it difficult to participate in a sport. It can make normal daily activities painful.

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. This causes the tissues and nerves in that area to be under pressure from the fluid and clotting in the area.

The obliques, bicyle, and upper gluteal muscles are all attached to the area of the pelvis. Sometimes the muscles can pull off from the bone when they contract too much.

“The body’s power is generated by the glutes. The abdominal muscles are involved in trunk movement and stabilization during a variety of activities, such as laughing or hitting a baseball.”

A hip pointer injury can cause pain in all types of movements and activities.

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 be caused by a soccer player falling on their hip while kicking a ball. This injury may be caused by a muscle contraction that causes the bone to become weak.

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 is limited. This is usually caused by pain and can result in a limp. The upper gluteal muscles are weak and can make it difficult to stand on one leg or lie on your side and lift your leg up.

Hip pointer injuries are usually diagnosed by the nature of the injury. Did the injury happen because of a fall or impact? Hip pointers are located in the iliac crest area of the hip, so the injury site is an indicator.

Your medical professional is looking for swelling and bruise around the injury. The hip is often limited and there is weakness in lifting the leg in the air from a side lying position.

The hip should be able to flex and extend.

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.

In adolescents whose bones have not grown fully, there may be a need to rule out injury at the growth plates.

Hip pointer management is usually conservative. Rest, icing the area, and possibly compression to the area are included. Anti-Inflammatory medications such as aspirin or NSAIDs may be used 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.

How you return to exercise will affect the length of recovery. If you push too hard, or the opposite, you can prevent movement once you heal.

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.

What does a hip pointer feel like?

A hip pointer feels like it hurts at the top of the hip or between the hip and the bone. It can be difficult to walk and move.

Should you stretch or massage a hip pointer?

“Light stretching and massage is good if it helps decrease pain and improve mobility. Make sure these strategies don’t make you worse off. If they do, you should consult a medical professional.”

How do you prevent a hip pointer?

Hip protectors can be useful if you are in a sport or activity that is likely to cause a hip or pelvis fall. These can be added to pants or compression shorts with padding around the hip.

Is a hip pointer a nerve injury?

No. It is more of a soft tissue injury. Swelling can affect the nerve.

Is surgery needed to repair a hip pointer?

Hip pointer surgery is not usually needed. If there is a large hematoma, your medical team may choose to drain it, which may relieve pain.

Hip pointers can cause pain and limitations that can be frustrating. Most people who have a hip pointer injury can recover quickly.

It is important to see a doctor for a full evaluation. It is important to make sure that something is not serious and that recovery is not rushed.

Give your body the rest it needs and you will be back to work in no time.