The hip is a ball and socket joint in which the ball is formed by the head of the femur (thigh bone) and the socket is formed by a depressed area on the pelvic bone called the acetabulum.
The femur is one of the longest bones in the human body. The femoral head is the rounded upper end that joins the pelvis to form the hip joint. It is followed by a narrowed section of bone called the femoral neck. The next section of the femur forms an outward projection at its upper end called the greater trochanter, which can be felt at the sides of your hip. Below this is a small prominence called the lesser trochanter. The trochanters provide attachment for important muscles that stabilize and move the hip joint.
The pelvic bone is large and irregularly shaped with three parts: the ilium, ischium and pubis. All three contribute to the acetabulum situated on the outer surface of the pelvic bone.
The head of the femur as well as the acetabulum are covered by smooth cartilage, which allows the bones to easily glide against each other during movement. The border of the acetabulum is covered by a rim of cartilage called the labrum which provides extra stability to the hip joint by increasing the area of contact.
The femoral head and the acetabulum are firmly held together by three strong ligaments (connective tissue that connects bone to bone) which form a capsule around the joint. The iliotibial band is a tendon (connective tissue that connects muscle to bone) that runs down the side of the femur, providing attachment for the hip muscles.
The hip is stabilized by muscles of the buttocks (gluteals), thigh (adductor muscles, rectus femoris and hamstring muscles) and lower back (iliopsoas muscle).
Friction between bones, tendons and muscles are avoided by a thin fluid-filled sac called the bursa. The fluid lubricates the hip joint, aiding in smooth movement.
Nerves carry messages from the brain to the hip muscles for movement. The main nerves include the femoral nerve, sciatic nerve and obturator nerve. The femoral artery runs down the pelvis and branches out to supply blood to the hip region.
All of these structures work together to ensure smooth movement of the hip joint.
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