The hip joint is made up of a collection of bones, ligaments, muscles, and tendons, all of which must work together in order to function properly. A hip ligament is a type of tissue that helps connect bones within the joint, thereby stabilizing the hips, especially during regular movement. More than one hip ligament exists: the iliofemoral, ischiofemoral, and pubofemoral ligaments all act to limit extra mobility in the hip. The zona orbicularis is primarily responsible for helping maintain contact between bones, and the ligamentum teres is useful for maintaining blood flow within the joint; it is generally only stretched if the hip is dislocated.
The various hip ligament functions will vary depending on the location of that tissue within the hip joint. Out of the five ligaments within the hip, three are designed to help limit mobility and promote stability during everyday activities; if, for example, the leg is extended forward, a rear ligament will limit the leg's movement. If the leg is moved backward, the forward hip ligament will prevent the leg from moving too far. The same is true for lateral movement. Strong ligaments will prevent injury during physical activity and will help athletes perform more efficiently.
When a hip ligament becomes injured, the joint may become painful to use and may even swell. A loss of mobility is likely. A few different ligament injuries exist, the least severe of which is a ligament sprain. This occurs when the tiny fibers that make up the ligament begin to tear, leading to pain, discomfort, soreness, and limited mobility. Minor sprains will generally heal on their own as long as the person suffering from the injury adheres to the RICE treatment: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. More severe sprains may require additional medical attention. Ligament tears or ruptures can be exceptionally painful, and while some may heal on their own, others may require surgery in order to be repaired properly.
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As is the case with other ligaments throughout the body, exercising regularly is a good way to strengthen the ligaments of the hip. Stronger ligaments will be more resistant to injuries and pain, and the stability of the joint will be greatly increased with strong ligaments. Elderly people are most susceptible to hip injuries because over time, the ligaments within the hip can weaken and begin to degrade. It is important for elderly people to exercise regularly as well, though they must be careful to avoid over-exertion as well.