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Hip Labral Tears

What is a hip labral tear?


A labral tear involves the ring of soft, elastic tissue, called the labrum that surrounds the entire outside rim of the hip socket.  The labrum aids in stability and shock absorption for the hip joint.


What are the symptoms of a hip labral tear?


Symptoms include hip pain or a "catching" sensation in your hip joint.  You may have groin pain or a “clicking” sensation when rotating your hip.  Stiffness and limitation is range of motion may also occur.


What causes a hip labral tear?


The most common causes of labral tears are trauma, repetitive motions or structural abnormalities of the hip joint.  Injury to the hip from sports, like hockey or football, or a hip dislocation may cause a labral injury.  Repetitive twisting motions, like with golf, may tear the labrum over time.


How do you diagnose a hip labral tear?


You will need a focused physical examination, as there are many tendons and muscles that surround the hip, so the source of your symptoms needs to be isolated.  Usually, an X-ray and MRI are needed to further evaluate the hip joint and surrounding structures.  A contrast material may be injected into the hip joint space to better visualize the labrum and assess for tears.

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MRI Labral Tear

How do you treat a hip labral tear?


Treatment options depend on the severity of the symptoms, patient age and extent of arthritis, if present.  Some people recovery with a short course of anti-inflammatory medication, rest and physical therapy.  Pain can also be controlled with a cortisone injection to the hip joint.


If you have a hip labral tear and experience pain that does not improve with conservative treatment or if you have mechanical symptoms like your hip catching or locking, your doctor may recommend arthroscopic hip surgery.  Depending on the cause and extent of the tear, the torn piece of labrum may either be removed or repaired.  If there is hip bony impingement (called femoroacetabluar impingement), the area of extra bone may need to be removed.


Hip pain can be caused by problems within the joint or outside the joint.  Your doctor may suggest injecting an anesthetic and/or anti-inflammatory into the joint space.  If this relieves your pain, it is likely that your problem is stemming from inside your hip joint.


How do you prevent a hip labral tear?


A common cause of hip labral tear is athletic trauma or repetitive stress from athletic activity.  Proper training and conditioning of commonly used muscles and those that support them might help reduce the risk of a hip labral tear.

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