History and physical examination of the hip: the basics

Curr Rev Musculoskelet Med. 2013 Sep;6(3):219-25. doi: 10.1007/s12178-013-9175-x.


The history and physical examination of the hip is the key component for evaluation of patients presenting with hip pain. As our understanding of the anatomy and biomechanics of the normal hip vs the pathologic hip advances, the physical examination progresses as well. As with the shoulder and knee examinations, there are critical steps that form the basis of the examination of the hip joint. This hip examination contains 21 steps, which compares well with the shoulder 20 step exam and the knee 33 step exam. Consideration should be given for the hip as comprised of 4 layers: the osseous, capsulolabral, musculotendinous, and neurovascular. The hip represents the link between the upper body and lower body, therefore the fifth layer, the kinematic chain, plays an essential role in treatment recommendations. A clinical evaluation of the hip that incorporates this multifactor thought process will lead to an accurate diagnosis in a timely manner. This paper is a description of the 21 core examinations of a standardized clinical evaluation of the hip.