What Should I Expect in a Hip Examination?

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  • Written By: Patti Kate
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 02 October 2019
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During your hip examination, expect your physician to ask you some basic questions. This may include whether you are currently experiencing pain, as well as the exact location and frequency of your pain. Your doctor may ask about your range of mobility. He'll probably check for proper alignment by having you lie flat on your back while taking measurements. Patients often also demonstrate walking during a hip examination, and may need to get x-rays or magnetic resonance imaging tests to diagnose hip problems.

If the reason for your hip examination is due to recurrent or chronic hip pain, your physician may need to take some initial tests. Before doing so, however, he will perform a visual observation and evaluation. He may also check for signs of inflammation and tenderness surrounding the hip joint by pressing gently with his fingers. He will do this by assessing your reaction to pressure.

Your hip examination may be performed by an orthopedic specialist or your general practitioner. In any case, you will be examined and observed in several aspects, including walking at a slow pace, and walking briskly. You may also be asked to sit on a low stool or chair, as well as on the examining table, so the physician may observe your posture. He will be checking for abnormalities that could be causing your hip problems.


When you visit your doctor for a hip examination, he will most likely ask you to walk a few steps, so he may do a comparison check of both hips. He'll be checking to see how the affected hip differs from the unaffected one. Basically, he'll be looking for any obvious asymmetric arrangement that is noticeable as you stand or walk. He'll also look for unusual movement, such as a limp or shuffle that could indicate muscle weakness or deterioration.

As you lie on the examining table, your doctor may ask you to extend both legs as he checks for symmetry. He may also ask you to flex your knee toward your chest. This will allow the doctor to see how fluid the movement is, and how much mobility you have in your hip joint. He may also ask you to move your leg in various directions.

If your doctor suspects dislocation or a fracture, he will need to obtain imaging to make the diagnosis. He may order x-rays which may show a fracture or a broken bone. The x-ray imaging will also show if the hip is dislocated. Additionally, your physician may wish to perform a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test.

The MRI is a non-invasive method of scanning the body to see muscles, tendons, ligaments, and tissues that can not be seen through an x-ray. With an MRI, your doctor will be able to determine if you have torn tendons or ligaments that are the cause of your hip pain or discomfort. It may also help in diagnosing other medical conditions such as a mass or tumor. After an assessment has been made, your physician will be able to prescribe the proper course of treatment.


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