Hip Pointer Clinical Presentation

Updated: Jan 05, 2021
  • Author: John M Martinez, MD; Chief Editor: Sherwin SW Ho, MD  more...
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Obtain a detailed history, including the mechanism of injury and the patient's description of his or her symptoms. A hip pointer is usually an acute injury, and the patient can typically recall a precipitating event, although some may present 24-48 hours after the initial injury.

  • Hip pointer injuries are usually caused by a direct blow to the iliac crest or greater trochanter in contact sports such as football or hockey.

  • A hip pointer may also be caused by a fall onto the hip in sports such as soccer or skiing.

  • Typically, the patient presents with the sudden onset of hip pain in the iliac crest or greater trochanteric region after sustaining trauma.

    • The pain is localized and may be exacerbated with activities such as running, jumping, twisting, or bending.

    • The pain can limit range of motion (ROM) at the hip joint and/or rotation of the trunk if the abdominal musculature is involved.



The primary cause of hip pointers is a direct blow or fall onto the iliac crest or greater trochanter. Risk factors include participation in contact sports and wearing limited or no padding or protective equipment in the region.


Physical Examination

Physical examination in a person with a suspected hip pointer should include abdominal examination to exclude trauma to intra-abdominal organs. Examination should consist of visual inspection, palpation, passive and active ROM assessment, sensory testing, and gait analysis.

  • Contusion or swelling may be evident upon visual inspection. The athlete usually reports increased pain with palpation of the affected iliac crest or greater trochanter. Limited ROM of the hip secondary to pain may also occur.

  • Motor strength of the hip flexor and extensors should be intact. Strength of the hip abductors and external rotators may be limited by pain if the contusion includes the sartorius muscle and/or the iliotibial tract.

  • Sensation should be intact to light touch, although this portion of the examination may be limited if the patient has severe pain.

  • Initial gait analysis may also be limited secondary to pain, but it provides a baseline from which to evaluate recovery.