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Hip Impingement

Hip impingement, otherwise known as femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) syndrome is a condition in which friction between the ball and the socket of the hip joint causes damage to the labrum and cartilage.

What causes hip impingement?

Hip impingement (FAI) results from abnormally shaped bones of the hip. The hip is a ball and socket joint. When the ball of the hip is not shaped perfectly round or if the socket has areas of prominence, these can create friction between the joint that can damage the labrum and cartilage of the joint.

What are the symptoms of hip impingement?

Hip impingement typically presents with pain to the front of the hip/groin. This pain is often made worse by deep squatting or bending motions of the hip, as well as twisting and pivoting motions. The pain from hip impingement can sometimes be associated with a clicking or catching sensation in the hip.

How is hip impingement diagnosed?

Hip impingement (FAI) is diagnosed using the combination of a thorough clinical examination and imaging of the hip. X-rays are the most useful imaging modality in the diagnosis of hip impingement because they allow the physician to assess the shape of the ball and socket to detect any structural abnormalities that lead to impingement. X-rays can also help distinguish between hip impingement and other conditions that may cause similar pain and symptoms such as hip arthritis. When necessary, an MRI is obtained to further assess for damage to the labrum or cartilage of the hip. In some instances, diagnostic injections can be useful in confirming the source of hip pain.

How is hip impingement treated?

Many hip injuries can be treated using non-surgical measures, including activity modification, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, ice and sometimes physical therapy. In some situations, an injection to the hip joint can provide some temporary relief and to also confirm where the pain is coming from. When none of these treatments are able to resolve the pain, some patients may benefit from surgery to correct structural abnormalities, including shaving/reshaping the misshapen ball and socket and repairing the labrum.

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