By Matthew A. Dobzyniak, MD
One of the most common causes for hip pain in young, active adults is Femoroacetabular Impingement (FAI). This pain presents most often in the front of the hip, in the groin area, and can be accompanied by stiffness and a clicking sensation that results in a limited range of motion.
Here we’ll explore the correlation between FAI and labral tears, how the hip condition is diagnosed, and the best treatment available.
FAI and Labral Tears
FAI hip pain is caused by an abnormality in the formation of the hip. The ball of the hip does not fit properly into the socket, causing bone spurs to grow around the femoral head. These bone spurs cause friction in the hip because the bones rub up against one another. This can actually cause tears in the labrum – the ring of cartilage on the outside rim of the hip socket.
FAI is not easily preventable, since the condition is caused by the hip’s failure to form in a normal way during a person’s natural growth cycle, but not everyone experiences pain and stiffness. Usually, active people who participate in sports or are avid runners work the hip more than less athletic people and they experience the pain of FAI both because of the joint abnormality and because of the labral tears that often accompany FAI.
Diagnosing FAI and Labral Tears
While FAI is the most common cause of hip pain in active adults, other things can be the cause. Hip dysplasia, where the hip socket is too shallow, can cause a similar pain, as can a loose body in the hip joint. In order to properly diagnose what is wrong, a physical examination is needed. Your doctor will order an X-ray, as a lot can be understood just by looking at a patient’s bone structure. If an X-ray doesn’t give a clear picture of what’s going on, an MRI might be needed. Once the problem is diagnosed, the physician can recommend treatment.
Treatment and Recovery for FAI
In some cases, the doctor may just recommend a reduction in activity level to let the hip heal from an injury. Often, however, the impingement is operable, and if the FAI has caused labral tears it is necessary to operate to correct the FAI and repair the labrum. This is done with arthroscopic surgery – a minimally invasive procedure that can help in two ways.
- To treat FAI, the overlapping bone can be shaved down to prevent future inflammation.
- To repair the labrum, arthroscopy allows the doctor to clean out any loose material in the cartilage and repair the tissue.
Healing and recovery time are minimal with arthroscopic hip surgery.
If you’re suffering from hip pain that may be from FAI, contact us today to schedule an appointment. There is no need to limit your activity needlessly for a problem that can be corrected easily.