Hip Pointer


A hip pointer is a type of injury that affects the hip bone, specifically the iliac crest. It is typically caused by a direct blow to the hip, usually from a fall or collision during sports activities. Hip pointer injuries are common in contact sports like football, hockey, and rugby, where athletes are at a higher risk of experiencing blunt force trauma to the hip area. The injury can result in severe pain beneath the skin, tenderness, swelling, and bruising around the hip.

What is a hip pointer?

Definition of a hip pointer

A hip pointer is a contusion or bruise that occurs on the bony prominence of the iliac bone, which is the upper edge of the pelvis. It is a type of sports injury that causes pain in the area, making it difficult for individuals to move their hip joints freely.

Causes of a hip pointer

A hip pointer occurs typically by a direct impact to the iliac crest, resulting in trauma to the underlying tissues/area of impact and structures around the hip. This type of injury is commonly seen in sports like football and hockey, where collisions and falls can occur frequently. A forceful impact on the hip or a hard fall can lead to pain, swelling, and damage to the soft tissues in the area.

Common sports associated with hip pointer injuries

Hip pointers are caused by common contact sports like football and rugby mostly through direct blows to the iliac crest.

Hip pointer pain possible cause rugby and physical contact sports
Photo Credit: master1305, Freepik

The nature of these sports exposes athletes to a higher risk of experiencing straight blows to the hip due to collisions with opponents or falls on the playing surface. The iliac crest, being a prominent bony structure, is more susceptible to injury during such activities.

What are the hip pointer symptoms?

Pain and soreness in the hip area

One of the primary symptoms of a hip pointer is the presence of pain and even some bruising and swelling in the hip area. Individuals may experience sharp or dull pain, which can worsen with movement, putting pressure on the affected hip, or even during rest.

Swelling and bruising

In addition to pain and tenderness, hip pointer results in swelling and bruising around the hip. This occurs due to the disruption of blood vessels and the accumulation of blood in the injured tissues. Swelling and bruising can be visually apparent and may take some time to subside.

Limitation in range of motion

An injury to the hip pointer can also lead to a limitation in the ROM of the hip. The pain and swelling associated with the injury can make it challenging to move the hip freely or perform activities that require a wide range of motion, such as walking, running, or participating in sports.

How is a hip pointer diagnosed?

Physical examination and medical history

During the diagnostic process, a healthcare professional will typically start by conducting a physical examination to search for signs of hematoma present and reviewing the individual’s medical history.

medical exam for hip pointer
Photo Credit: pressfoto, Freepik

The doctor may ask questions about the mechanism of injury, the severity of hip pain, and any other symptoms which may be a sign of hip pointer.

Imaging tests to assess the extent of the injury

To assess the extent of the injury to the hip pointer and rule out any accompanying avulsion fractures or other injuries, imaging tests such as X-rays, CT scans, or MRI scans may be ordered. These tests can help visualize the bones, soft tissues, and surrounding structures to aid in the diagnosis.

Other diagnostic techniques for ruling out other injuries

In some cases, additional diagnostic techniques, such as ultrasound or bone scans, may be used to rule out other possible injuries or complications front and top of the pelvis. These tests can help evaluate the condition of the soft tissues, blood flow, and the presence of any underlying bone abnormalities.

What are the treatment options for a hip pointer?

RICE method: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation

The initial treatment for an injury to the hip pointer typically involves following the RICE method: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Resting the injured hip helps promote healing, while applying ice packs can help reduce pain, swelling, and inflammation. Compression with an elastic bandage and elevation of the leg can further aid in reducing swelling and promote blood flow to the area.

Pain management with over-the-counter medication

Over-the-counter pain relievers, like ibuprofen or other non-corticosteroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), may be recommended to help manage the pain and reduce inflammation associated with injury to hip pointer.

over the counter medicine as shown can help alleviate hip pointer pain.
Photo Credit: aleksanderlittlewolf, Freepik

It is important to follow the recommended dosage and consult a healthcare professional before taking any medication and there is no guarantee of ever being pain-free or making full recovery.

Physical therapy exercises for hip pointer treatment

Once the initial pain and swelling subside, a healthcare professional may prescribe physical therapy exercises to restore joint function and strength. These exercises aim to improve the range of motion, strengthen the muscles around the injured hip, and promote healing. Stretching and mobility exercises followed by targeted strengthening exercises can help individuals regain their mobility and return to their daily activities or sports. Most of the time pain decreases and the normal function of the hip can return.

How can you prevent a hip pointer?

Wearing protective equipment

When participating in contact and heavy physical sports like football or rugby, it is crucial to wear appropriate protective equipment. This may include hip pads or protective padding to minimize the risk of direct blows to the hip and reduce the chances of sustaining an injury to hip pointer.

Proper warm-up and stretching before physical activity

Engaging in a proper warm-up routine before engaging in physical activities or sports can help prepare the body for the stress and impact it may undergo.

male athlete streatching in front of a modern building
Photo Credit: fxquadro, Freepik

A few seconds can help to loosen the muscles around the hip. Incorporating dynamic stretching exercises specific to the hip muscles can help improve flexibility, enhance blood circulation, and reduce the risk of potential joint injury. Even 20-30 seconds can help before engaging in physical activities.

Strengthening the hip muscles to provide better support

Regularly engaging in strength and conditioning exercises that target the hip muscles can be beneficial in providing better support to the hip joint. Strong hip abductor muscles, for example, can help stabilize the hip and minimize the risk of injuries, including hip pointers.


Q: What is the treatment for a hip pointer?

A: Initial treatment for a hip pointer includes rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE). Pain relief medications such as acetaminophen or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be recommended. Depending on the severity of the injury, a healthcare professional might suggest mobility exercises followed by hip strengthening exercises to aid in the healing process. Despite treatment, however, hip pointer may return.

Q: How long does it take to recover from a hip pointer?

A: The recovery time for a hip pointer can vary depending on the severity of the injury. Mild cases can take around 1 to 2 weeks to heal, while in more severe cases pain lasts longer, sometimes even months to give full ability to move.

Q: Can a hip pointer cause a fracture?

A: While a hip pointer itself does not typically result in a fracture, a severe impact or a hard fall can potentially cause a hip fracture in some cases.

Q: What are the common complications associated with a hip pointer?

A: Common complications of a hip pointer include the formation of a hematoma (collection of blood), myositis ossificans (abnormal bone formation within the muscle), and ongoing hip pain or instability.

Q: When should I consult a healthcare professional for a hip pointer?

A: It is recommended to consult a healthcare professional if you experience severe pain, inability to bear weight on the affected hip, persistent swelling, or if your symptoms worsen over time. They can provide an accurate diagnosis and recommend a suitable treatment plan. Full rehabilitation programs if applied early can nip the problem in the bud.

Q: What is the role of sports medicine in the treatment of a hip pointer?

A: Sports medicine professionals play a crucial role in the diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of hip pointer injuries. They employ their specialized knowledge and techniques to help athletes and individuals recover from hip injuries and return to their sports or daily activities.

How do you treat a hip pointer?

Treatment for a hip pointer typically involves rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE). Over-the-counter pain relievers may also be used to manage pain. In some cases, physical therapy may be recommended to restore strength and mobility.

How long does it take for a hip pointer to go away?

Recovery time for a hip pointer can vary, but most injuries start to improve within a few days and fully heal within 1 to 3 weeks. Severe cases may take longer to reduce the swelling and fully heal.

How painful are hip pointers?

Hip pointers can be quite painful, especially in the first few days after the injury. The pain is usually localized to one spot on the hip and can be exacerbated by movement or pressure on the area. Diagnosing and treating early can help.

What is another name for a hip pointer?

A hip pointer is also known as a contusion of the iliac crest, referring to the injury’s typical location at the upper part of the hip bone.