Angie's LIST Guide to
Hip orthopedics

A hip doctor is an orthopedic specialist who diagnoses, treats and helps prevent diseases and conditions of the musculoskeletal related to the hips. Most commonly, an orthopedic surgeon will address hip fractures and hip replacement.


Hip X-Ray
Older adults are usually at risk for broken hips. Treatment for a break will depend on the severity of the fracture. (Photo courtesy of iStock)

What hip doctors do

Orthopedic doctors and surgeons who are called hip doctors specialize in diseases and conditions that affect the hips and do not carry a special title. These orthopedic surgeons can work as part of a hospital staff or in a private practice. A hip orthopedics clinic may have several orthopedists on hand that specialize in problems that affect the hip.

An orthopedic surgeon's educational background is very specialized and includes a combination of four years of undergraduate study and four years of medical school training. After graduation, an orthopedist must attend a one-year residency in general surgery and four-years of residency training in orthopedic surgery. Once these requirements are fulfilled, some orthopedists decide to take up a subspecialty, such as orthopedic trauma. After residency, an orthopedic surgeon can become board certified by the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery. Board certification ensures that the orthopedist has met strict requirements and standards set by the board. Most orthopedists that practice medicine in the United States are board certified. On average, it takes nearly 14 years to complete the studies necessary to become an orthopedic doctor.

When to see a hip orthopedist

Most primary care physicians will refer you to an orthopedic surgeon for hip fractures. As a person ages, calcium becomes less available in the body, so the bones begin to thin out and fracture easily. Injuries can also cause hip fractures.

The second major reason for seeing an orthopedist is hip replacement, a surgical procedure that involves removing damaged bone or cartilage and replacing it with a prosthetic part. When your hip bones have been severely damaged by wear and tear (often as a result of arthritis or repeated fractures) of if you have difficulty walking or standing, you may need hip replacement surgery. 

You'll also see hip doctors for pulled ligaments that affect your hips, and for damaged muscles or nerves in the hips. Most of these conditions are caused by congenital diseases or diseases that develop in adulthood.

Certain syndromes also can affect hip health. Professional athletes and people who frequently play contact sports account for a large number of patients in an orthopedic clinic. The most common injury seen in athletes is a pulled hip flexor.

Elderly people will likely visit a hip orthopedics clinic at some point because problems with arthritis that affect the hips.

Finding the right hip orthopedist

Finding an orthopedist that specializes in ailments affecting the hips may be easier than you think. You can locate a reputable and qualified hip orthopedist by searching a site like Angie's List. For instance, if you're a member, search Angie's List with the term "hip doctor." Once you're on the page, click the doctor's name to see about his or her qualifications, education, continuing education, accepted insurance plans and affiliated hospitals in addition to member reviews and rankings. 

Look for an orthopedic specialist who is board certified, and one with good reviews from patients. Sometimes your doctor will refer you to a specialist, but if you have one in mind, let your GP know so that he or she can write a referral letter to the appropriate doctor.

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melissa hoffman

Subject: sore hip

3 years ago, injury happened by slightly twisting left ankle on my cross country run then catching myself with the right leg. Since I have seen the chiro, and a physical therapist. Nothing has made it go away.. please help

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