What Is a Hip Pointer Injury?

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A hip pointer injury is a common sports injury, but it can really happen to anyone. The term "hip pointer" was coined in the 1960s to describe a soft-tissue injury at the top part of the hip.

This article will explore how a hip pointer injury occurs, as well as how these injuries are diagnosed and treated.

Doctor helping hip injury

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Types of Hip Pointer Injuries

There is only one kind of hip pointer injury, however, the term "hip pointer" was used to describe all types of hip injuries in athletes until one medical doctor suggested a more narrow definition. Martin Blazina, MD, stated in a 1967 report that the term was being used to describe all sorts of injuries in the hip region, but a true "hip pointer" injury didn't really affect the hip at all.

A hip pointer is actually a contusion—a severe bruise that can cause bleeding under the surface of the skin—on the iliac crest. The iliac crest is the top part of just one of the bones that makes up the pelvis. As the prominent edge of the ileum, you can feel your iliac crest if you put your hands at your waist and press down.

Depending on the severity and extent of a hip pointer injury, several muscles can also be involved or injured, like the:

Hip Pointer Symptoms

A hip pointer is essentially a severe bruise on the bony edge of your pelvis. Like many bruises, discoloration and tenderness are common.

When you have a hip pointer injury, however, your symptoms may extend beyond a basic bruise. Symptoms of a hip pointer can include things like:

  • Bruising
  • Hematoma (collection of blood outside the blood vessels)
  • Swelling
  • Severe pain or tenderness to the touch
  • Limited range of motion in your hip
  • Weakness in your hip or leg

Causes

Hip pointer injuries are the result of direct physical trauma to the soft tissue over the iliac crest. This injury is common in contact sports—especially among football and hockey players—but can also occur in other noncontact sports, falls, or even a crash.

Diagnosis

The first step in diagnosing a hip pointer injury is knowing how the injury occurred. If you were injured while playing sports, your healthcare provider may not need much more information to make a diagnosis. There will likely be physical signs of injury, like bruising or even a hematoma in more severe cases.

After a physical examination and a review of your symptoms and what happened, your healthcare provider may decide to perform additional tests to rule out any other hip or bone damage. Some of the tests that might be ordered to check for other injuries or complications include:

Treatment

How a hip pointer is treated depends on the severity of the injury. Athletes are often able to return to play after these injuries with additional management of the hip pointer after their game or competition ends.

Some things that can help reduce the pain and inflammation caused by a hip pointer include:

When in Doubt, RICE

"RICE" is an acronym you may already be familiar with, and it's often used to treat traumatic injuries—especially in sports. Like the treatments mentioned above, RICE therapy focuses on reducing pain and inflammation, and promoting healing.

"RICE" stands for:

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression
  • Elevation

You can learn more about each step of RICE therapy here.

In severe cases in which a large hematoma may cause blood to pool under the surface of the skin, aspiration—or removal of the blood with a thin needle—is an option. Injections of local anesthetics are sometimes used in severe injuries or with professional athletes.

Prognosis

Your prognosis after a hip pointer injury depends on how severe the injury is, your age, and your overall health. Professional athletes might return to play immediately after these injuries, but you should follow up with sports medicine specialists and physical therapists before resuming activities.

Children and recreational athletes should take some time away from their sport or competition, or just opt for more rest. In most cases, a hip pointer injury heals on its own, although it can remain sore for two to three weeks.

Coping

It's important to allow yourself time to heal after any injury. Pushing yourself to return to your normal activity level after a hip pointer could lead to complications.

A hip pointer injury can make weight-bearing difficult and put you in a position to be injured again or more severely if you aren't careful. Protective gear and padding can help prevent these injuries and permanent damage—especially in contact sports.

Summary

A hip pointer injury is a specific injury caused by a direct blow to the iliac crest—the prominent edge at the top of your pelvis. These soft-tissue injuries usually heal on their own, but the process can take several weeks.

A Word From Verywell

If you develop a hip pointer injury, you may not need drastic treatments, but it's still important not to rush the healing process. Simple at-home care like rest, ice, and elevation are common tools for dealing with hip pointer injuries. Rushing back into play can lead to more problems.

Talk to your healthcare provider if your injury isn't feeling better after a few weeks to rule out complications or more extensive injuries.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is any injury to the hip considered a hip pointer?

    No. A hip pointer injury is a soft-tissue injury that occurs at the top crest of the ileum. The ileum is one of the three bones that makes up the hip.

  • Can I keep playing sports with a hip pointer injury?

    While some professional athletes may return to play after a hip pointer injury, it's not recommended for everyone. These injuries can cause weakness in your hip and legs, increasing your chances of additional—and more serious—injuries.

  • Do I need surgery for a hip pointer injury?

    No. Simple treatments like rest, ice, and elevation are usually enough to treat a hip pointer. With severe injuries, you may need to have a hematoma drained or face complications like bone damage. This is not the case for most people with these injuries.

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6 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Gultekin S, Cross T. The Franklin-Naismith Lesion: A severe variant of hip pointer. Orthop. J. Sports Med. January 2019;7(1). doi:10.1177/2325967118820507.

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