Common Causes of Hip Impingement

Problems that plague your large hip joints can cast a wide net over your ability to function normally, especially when it comes to a hip impingement. Our goal is to resolve the impingement, also called a femoroacetabular impingement (FAI), so you can move freely again.

At Western Orthopaedics, Dr. Brian White is the go-to expert for hip problems like FAI, and he’s a leading expert in hip preservation. With the goal of avoiding joint replacement surgery, Dr. White offers a unique approach to hip impingement that preserves your joint and restores your pain-free mobility.

Here’s a look at how a hip impingement develops, and how Dr. White can remedy the problem.

Behind the impingement

A hip impingement is a problem that occurs when the femoral head of your hip joint doesn’t fit properly within the socket. This mismatch can cause damage to your labrum, which is a band of tough cartilage that surrounds your acetabulum (hip socket).

There are two main types of hip impingement:

Deformity of the femoral head

If the head of your femur has an odd shape that’s more oval than round, it causes friction within the joint. This is also called a cam impingement.

Deformity of the acetabulum

In this scenario, which is also called a pincer impingement, it's the socket of your hip that’s abnormally shaped, leaving your femoral head to rub up against your socket. For example, your socket may be too deep and cover too much of your femoral head, causing the head to butt up against your socket and labrum.

In less common cases, you have a mixture of these two types of impingement.

Causes of hip impingement

The exact mechanism that causes a hip impingement isn't quite clear. In many cases, the problem is likely congenital, meaning you were born with abnormally shaped structures in your hip. In these cases, the problem becomes more clear the more you use the joint, especially if you engage in activities where there’s ample squatting and twisting.

A hip impingement can also be caused by a rare problem called slipped capital femoral epiphysis, which typically occurs during adolescence. In these cases, prompt attention is required to resolve the problem.

Treating a hip impingement

One of the leading side effects of a hip impingement is a labral tear, which is where the expertise of Dr. White comes in. As we mentioned, your labrum is a ring of cartilage that surrounds your socket, and it’s in the direct line of fire when there’s an impingement.

If you sustain a labral tear, Dr. White approaches the problem in one of two ways:

Labral repair

If the damage is minimal and there’s enough healthy tissue, Dr. White sutures your existing labrum.

Labral reconstruction

If the damage is great, Dr. White removes the torn tissue and reconstructs a new labrum using a graft.

With both approaches, Dr. White uses hip arthroscopy, an advanced surgical technique that minimizes collateral tissue damage and speeds up recovery.

If you suspect you have a hip impingement, your first step is to contact Dr. White at one of our offices in Arvada or Denver, Colorado.

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