An Algorithmic Approach to Mechanical Hip Pain

Lazaros A. Poultsides, MD, MSc, PhD
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Center for Hip Pain and Preservation, Hospital for Special Surgery, New York

Asheesh Bedi, MD
Sports Medicine and Shoulder Surgery, MedSport, University of Michigan Health System, MI


Bryan T. Kelly, MD

Associate Attending Orthopedic Surgeon, Hospital for Special Surgery
Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, Hospital for Special Surgery
Assistant Professor of Orthopedic Surgery, Weill Cornell Medical College

Abstract

Background 
As our understanding of hip pathology evolves, the focus is shifting toward earlier identification of hip pathology. Therefore, it is vitally important to elucidate intra-articular versus extra-articular pathology of hip pain in every step of the patient encounter: history, physical examination, and imaging.

Questions/Purposes 
The objective was to address the following research questions: (1) Can an algorithmic approach to physical examination of a painful non-arthritic hip provide a more accurate diagnosis and improved treatment plan? (2) Does an anatomical layered concept of clinical diagnosis improve diagnostic accuracy? (3) What are the diagnostic tools necessary for the accurate application of a four-layer (osteochondral, inert, contractile, and neuromechanical) diagnosis?

Methods 
An unrestricted computerized search of MEDLINE was conducted. Different terms were used in various combinations.

Results 
An algorithmic approach to physical examination of a painful nonarthritic hip, including history, physical examination (specific tests), and advanced imaging allow for better interpretation of debilitating intra- and extra-articular disorders and their effect on core performance. Additionally, it improves our understanding as to how underlying abnormal joint mechanics may predispose the hip joint and the associated hemipelvis to asymmetric loads. These abnormal joint kinematics (layer I) can lead to cartilage and labral injury (layer II), as well as resultant injury to the musculotendinous (layer III) and neural structures (layer IV) about the hip joint and the hemipelvis. The layer concept is a systematic means of determining which structures about the hip are the source of hip pathology and how to best implement treatment.

Conclusions 
A clear understanding of the differential diagnosis of hip pain through a detailed and systematic physical examination, diagnostic imaging assessment, and the interpretation of how mechanical factors can result in such a wide range of compensatory injury patterns about the hip can facilitate the diagnosis and treatment recommendations.

This article appears in HSS Journal: Volume 8, Number 3.
View the full article at springerlink.com.

About the HSS Journal

HSS Journal, an academic peer-reviewed journal published three times a year, February, July and October. The Journal accepts and publishes peer reviewed articles from around the world that contribute to the advancement of the knowledge of musculoskeletal diseases and disorders.

^ Back to Top
Request an Appointment