Femoroacetabular Impingement (FAI) & Labral Tears

Femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) is a type of hip condition that results from the pinching of the head of the thighbone and the acetabulum or socket of the hip. This pinching can result in pain and can sometimes wear away some of the tissue around the joint known as the labrum. Changes in your hip can sometimes impact your low back, knees, ankles, and feet. However, just because you may have some breakdown of the joint surface, it doesn’t necessarily mean you will have any pain or limitation associated with it.

You might feel:

    • Pain often noted along the groin, outside of the leg, and buttock
    • Stiffness in the hip during the morning that lasts less then 60 minutes
    • Pain or catch with hip flexion greater then 90 degrees
    • High intensity exercises/activities may make symptoms worse such as running, jumping, or twisting movements

Possible Causes:

    • Anatomical variations in the shape of the head of the femur (the ball portion of the ball and socket joint) and/or shape of the acetabulum (part of the pelvis that is the socket within the ball and socket type joint of the hip) allowing for contact to occur. But these variations can also be seen in non-symptomatic patients
    • Postural changes such as a flattened low back may posteriorly rotate the pelvis and allow for pinching to occur
    • Trauma, such as a fall, can result in an labral tear

Things to try:

    • Specific exercises to increase hip strength primarily of the outer muscles and the buttocks
    • Manual therapy to address hip joint stiffness and possible lumbar spine stiffness
    • Balance activities to try and maintain similar levels of balance between the involved hip and the uninvolved hip
    • Progression of movements is quality based. As you demonstrate greater competency and capacity to do the movements they need to be progressively more challenging

Every individual and every episode of hip pain is very unique. The treatment suggestions listed above include several options to try and see how they may improve your situation. In addition, a thorough evaluation by a physical therapist can help identify specific features about your condition and how to best manage them. Understanding as much as possible about your current condition is a very important aspect of the recovery process and will empower you to take the necessary steps to get back to your normal activities with as little discomfort as possible.

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