Radiology Review

Competitive Swimmer With Hip Pain

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A 17-year-old girl presents for evaluation of severe pain in her left hip. She is a competitive swimmer; earlier in the day, she was at practice doing dry land (out of the water) activities/exercises. Having completed a series of stretches and warm-up exercises, she and her teammates proceeded to do sprints. During one of these sprints, she immediately felt a “pop” in her left hip followed by severe, debilitating pain in that hip and thigh. Medical history is otherwise unremarkable. Physical exam reveals that it is extremely painful for the patient to bear weight on the affected leg. There is moderate-to-severe tenderness over the lateral hip. Some swelling is noted; no bruising is present. Distal pulses are good, and motor and sensation are intact. Radiograph of the pelvis is obtained (shown). What is your impression?


The radiograph demonstrates no evidence of an acute fracture or dislocation. Normal gas/stool pattern is present. Essentially, this radiograph is normal.

The patient most likely has an acute strain of her hip quadriceps or flexor. On occasion, severe enough strain injuries can cause a slight avulsion fracture within the hip at the muscle origination point. These can sometimes be evident on plain films.

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