Two posts ago, we discussed the bony anatomy of the hip joint. Briefly, it is a ball and socket joint between the deep socket on the pelvis, called the acetabulum, and the ball of the femur. The hip labrum is a ring of tissue along the outside of the acetabulum that acts as a seal for the joint. In addition to the ligaments and muscles surrounding the hip, the labrum helps keep the joint very stable.
Athletes who participate in sports like soccer and football, as well as dancers, are at higher risk for developing a labral tear. This is due to the level of stability required to perform the tasks of the sport. If an athlete’s muscles are not properly supporting the hip joint, the stress or impact of the activity (ie. jumping, landing, kicking) can transfer to the hip labrum and cause a tear. For a very small structure, that’s a lot of stress!
Additionally, structural issues in the hip can cause a labral tear. Some people are born with bony deformities on the acetabulum, the head of the femur, or both. Over time, movement at the hip causes wear and tear at the labrum where the deformities come into contact.
Symptoms of a labral tear include painful locking or clicking in the hip joint, pain around your hip and groin, and most importantly, loss of hip range of motion. Unlike a tendinitis that tends to go away with rest, this pain usually remains.
That sounds serious! Do I need surgery?
Not necessarily! Physical therapy is a great option for conservative treatment. A 12-week rehabilitation protocol was studied in a case series published in the Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy, and all subjects made improvements in strength, function, and range of motion. The program focused on core stabilization, muscular imbalance correction, and sport-specific training (once the 2 previous foci were met). All subjects had a hip labral tear confirmed by MRI and clinical evaluation.
If you think you may have a labral tear, the Doctors of Physical Therapy at FitClub are excited to help you get your recovery started! Please give us a call at (646) 875-8FIT or fill out this form on our website to schedule your first appointment!