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Femoroacetabular Impingement (FAI)/Labral Tear

Hip impingement, or femoroacetabular impingement (FAI), is a condition where the bones of the ball and socket of the hip joint do not work smoothly together. The abnormality can be due to issues with the shape of the femoral head (ball), the acetabulum (socket), or both. If the problem is on the femoral side, it is known as cam impingement. If the problem is on the acetabular side, it is known as pincer impingement.

The mismatch between the shapes of the ball and socket causes the bones to hit against each other (impinge) and lead to damage to cartilage in the joint or to the labrum. The labrum is a ring of cartilage along the rim of the socket and a labral tear due to FAI is a potential reason for the development of pain. Due to the possible damage to the cartilage in the joint (articular cartilage), FAI is a risk factor for the development of osteoarthritis.

FAI is commonly seen in athletes due to the increased activity level and pressure on the joint.

FAI Symptoms

Common symptoms of FAI include:

  • Pain, often in the groin, with hip flexion and rotation
  • Locking or catching with certain activities
  • Soreness or pain with prolonged sitting
  • Decreased range of motion

FAI Treatment

Depending on multiple contributing factors, FAI can be treated conservatively or with surgery if

Conservative (non-operative) treatment can include:

  • Activity modification
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Physical therapy
  • Injections

Surgical treatment can include:

  • Arthroscopy
  • Open surgery, including surgical dislocation