Hip Pain and Labral Tears

Hip Pain and Labral Tears

What is the labrum of the hip?

The labrum is a fibrous rim of cartilage that covers and seals your hip socket. This cartilage lining provides stability for the thigh bone (femur) inside the hip socket (acetabulum) while allowing flexibility. The labrum aids in maintaining the alignment and stability of the hip joint's bones while you move. Additionally, it aids in maintaining joint fluid within the joint to guarantee friction-free motion.

How do tears happen?

An injury to the labrum, a ring of cartilage on the socket portion of the hip joint, results in a labral tear. Labral tears can occur from an injury such as a twist, slip, or repetitive stress. For example, athletes such as gymnasts and ballet dancers who have to pivot or flex their hips repeatedly are more likely to damage their labrum than those who do not. 

Over time, this repetitive impingement of the hip joint can cause the labrum to tear and damage the labrum. A hip labral tear may lead to early degenerative arthritis if not managed properly.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of hip labral tear usually include the following:

  • Limitations in hip range of motion or hip stiffness
  • A clicking or locking in your hip joint during movement
  • Hip, groin, or buttock pain, especially when running or walking.

If you are experiencing pain in the front of your hip, along with clicking, locking or catching of your hip joint, you may have a tear of the hip labrum. Prolonged sitting, standing, walking or pivoting can cause pain for someone with a labral tear, which may also cause a limp when walking. 

Other hip labral tear symptoms include joint stiffness or a feeling of instability in your hip. In some cases, hip labral tears go undiscovered for years because of a lack of symptoms.

How can Physiotherapy help?

If your physiotherapist suspects a labral tear, they will perform a series of tests to rule out any other conditions. It can be difficult to confirm a diagnosis of a labral tear in the clinics. However, if it is suspected, a diagnosis can be confirmed with medical imaging.

Once a diagnosis has been confirmed, your physiotherapist will aim to reduce your symptoms and help you return to your pre-injury activity levels. Hip labral tear treatment may include a stretching and strengthening program.

Meanwhile, hip labral tear physiotherapy may also address any training errors or neuromuscular imbalances, movement re-education and a variety of manual techniques to help reduce pain. 

A good treatment for labral tear in the hip is the one that is used in conjunction with physiotherapy, including pharmaceutical treatments, corticosteroid injection and arthroscopy. The correct course of physiotherapy for hip labral tear is decided through consultation with your medical team and will be based on your goals for the future.

None of the information in this article is a replacement for proper medical advice. Always see a medical professional for advice on your individual injury. 

Blog by Brittany Romas – Physiotherapist, PhysioChoice Hampton.

Brittany holds a Bachelor of Applied Science and a Master of Physiotherapy from La Trobe University. She is currently studying for her Masters of Sports and Exercise Physiotherapy at La Trobe University. She is an avid powerlifter and has a strong interest in strength conditioning, acute sports injuries, and occupational-related conditions. Brittany has spent time in South East Asia working with paediatric patients with a large range of neurological disorders; she has developed a keen interest in providing disability support in conjunction with the NDIS. Brittany believes in a holistic approach to her client’s rehabilitation and treatments, including Hydrotherapy, Dry Needling and Clinical Pilates.

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