Hip pointer injury: What it is and what to do

While a hip pointer injury can be painful, the good news is that it generally does not require significant medical treatment. Rest and caution are enough to take care of most cases.

A hip pointer is a bruise or contusion on the upper outside part of the hip, resulting from impact to the iliac crest — the curved part of the pelvis on each side that we commonly think of as the hip bone. These injuries often occur in contact sports, but also can result from a fall.

While hip pointers can be rather painful, the good news is that they generally do not require significant medical treatment. Rest and caution are enough for a full recovery in the majority of cases.

Symptoms include bruising; swelling and tenderness of the hip; limited range of motion; and lack of strength in the tender area. Pain is also common and may be severe, depending on the depth of bruising. Symptoms typically are intensified by physical activity.

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You should see a physician to make sure the injury isn’t more serious. Rest, ice, and compression to the hip as soon as possible are recommended.

“Recovery time from a hip pointer is between one to three weeks,” said Chad Smith, M.D., orthopedic surgeon with Norton Orthopedic Institute and sports medicine physician with Norton Sports Health. “You’ll want to stay off your feet and use crutches to get around to allow the injury to heal and speed recovery time.”

According to Dr. Smith, who is the head team physician for University of Louisville football, if pain lingers longer than a couple of weeks, check back with a physician to ensure that the condition has not worsened. Athletes should not return to competition while there is pain.

Many athletes make the mistake of trying to play through the pain, which only hurts them in the long run. Once the athlete fully recovers, using additional padding for the hip is recommended to avoid re-injury.

Rest is important to reduce swelling and bruising. Anti-inflammatory and pain medications may be helpful, and gentle stretching is often effective in reducing stiffness and regaining mobility.


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