Hip Labrum Tear
What Is a Hip Labrum Tear?
The labrum in the hip is a bow-shaped piece of cartilage and connective tissue that lines the acetabulum (rim of the hip socket) and provides cushioning and stability to the hip joint. A labrum or labral tear can be caused by injury, degenerative issues, or structural problems.
Some people who tear their labrum experience no symptoms, while others may experience some symptoms. The most common symptoms include pain or stiffness in the hip, groin and buttocks, instability in the hip, and clicking or locking in the hip region. A labrum tear can be treated non-surgically, or in more severe cases, treatment may require surgery.
Signs and Symptoms
People who suffer a labrum tear, also known as a labral tear, may or may not experience symptoms. A labrum tear may include the following symptoms:
- Pain in your hip, groin or buttocks, especially during a sustained period of standing, sitting, or walking
- A clicking or locking sensation in the hip region
- Limited range of motion and stiffness in the hip
- Instability in the hip
Make sure to consult with your healthcare provider if symptoms worsen or do not get better within 6 weeks.
There are several causes for a labrum tear in the hip. The three primary causes are injury, structural problems, and degenerative issues.
- Injury. Trauma to the hip can lead to a labrum tear. Motor-vehicle accidents, contact sports, long distance running, and sports or activities with repetitive twisting motion may also increase the risk of a labrum tear.
- Structural problems. Conditions that create abnormal movement of the hip lead to excessive wear and tear and over time, may cause the labrum to tear. Femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) is an example of a structural problem that can lead to a labrum tear.
- Degenerative issues. Degenerative issues often stem from injuries or structural issues. The chronic wear and tear (osteoarthritis) may cause the connective tissue and cartilage in the hip to start degenerating over time, eventually leading to a labrum tear.
It is important to consult with your healthcare provider if you are noticing symptoms and you’ve experienced trauma to the hip, especially if symptoms have not resolved within six weeks.
Labrum tears in the hip can be difficult to diagnose because of all the muscles and other structures surrounding the hip area, making it hard to find. To make a diagnosis, a doctor will perform a physical exam and get your symptom history. The doctor may also ask you to walk and move around the exam room as he or she observes range of motion, instability, and pain. If further information is needed, a doctor may recommend taking x-rays or doing an MRI.
- X-rays. The images will be able to show any bone deformities or structural issues that can lead to a labrum tear.
- MRI. This machine uses magnets and computer processing to give a detailed image of the body’s internal structures, including connective tissue, cartilage, muscles, blood vessels, etc.
Some people who experience labrum tears have no symptoms and do not require specific treatment. People with ongoing symptoms may opt for nonsurgical or surgery options, depending on the severity of the symptoms.
Typical nonsurgical treatment may include physical therapy or taking anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS), such as Ibuprofen, Naproxen, or Advil. The medications help to reduce inflammation around the site of the torn labrum, helping to decrease pain. A doctor may also recommend injecting a corticosteroid into the hip joint to provide temporary relief.
A combination of physical therapy with anti-inflammatory medication can also be effective. It is important to consult with your doctor before starting any treatment option.
If nonsurgical treatments are not effective, surgery may be recommended. To repair a torn labrum, a doctor may recommend arthroscopic surgery. This type of surgery makes small incisions to insert thin instruments and a fiber-optic camera in order to repair the labrum. Depending on the size or severity of the tear, a doctor will decide whether to remove the torn piece of labrum or sew it back together.
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