Hip Labral Tears

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Clicking? Popping? Locking? Sharp pain with skating or bending and rotating your hip? You may have a hip labral tear. Amongst hockey players, hip labral tears are very common due to the forceful and repetitive nature of hip flexion with skating.

The labrum is a semi-lunar cartilage structure that runs along the rim of the hip socket. It provides cushion and stability to the hip joint. Labral tears can be caused by a specific injury or with repetitive motions that cause “wear and tear” to the cartilage. Diagnosis of hip labral tears tend to be difficult due to the various surrounding muscles and structures of the hip. Diagnosis is based on history of the pain or injury, physical exam, and MRI confirmation. Patients tend to have pain deep in the groin on the side of the involved hip, which may be accompanied by a feeling of “clicking” or “locking”. Hip range of motion is usually normal but presents with pain when the hip is flexed or internally rotated.

For those with persistent pain from labral tears, there are many treatment options, including physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medications. At times, physical therapy and anti-inflammatories are enough for the labral tear to become asymptomatic. If conservative treatment does not alleviate the pain, arthroscopic surgery is frequently indicated. Post-surgery, you will be on crutches for two to six weeks, depending on the extent of the injury. Return to sport can vary from two to six months, again, based on the extent of the injury. Physical therapy is a key component to return to sport after surgery to improve hip range of motion and strength of surrounding musculature.

By: John Gallucci Jr., MS, ATC, PT, DPT

President & CEO, JAG Physical Therapy

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