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Hip Labral Tear

The labrum is a structure made of cartilage tissue on the edge of the socket of the hip. It has multiple functions including creating a tight seal between the ball and socket by helping control the flow of joint fluid between the ball and socket and providing added stability to the hip joint.

What causes a hip labral tear?

Labral tears can occur from either traumatic injuries or from wear and tear of the hip in association with arthritis. Certain bony abnormalities of the hip, such as those found in femoroacetabular impingement syndrome (hip impingement) or hip dysplasia (a shallow hip socket), can increase a patient’s risk of developing hip labral tears. Labral tears that occur with an injury are usually caused by a sudden twisting or pivoting motion.

What are the symptoms of a hip labral tear?

Labral tears typically present 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 labral tears can sometimes be associated with a clicking or catching sensation in the hip. Some patients may also feel that the hip is unsteady.

How is it diagnosed?

Labral tears are diagnosed using the combination of a thorough clinical examination and imaging of the hip. X-rays are helpful to allow the physician to assess the shape of the ball and socket to detect any structural abnormalities that lead to impingement or hip dysplasia, which can increase the risk of labral tears. When necessary, an MRI is obtained to 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 it 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 repairing the labrum and also addressing structural bony abnormalities that may have led to the labral tear.

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