If you consider the workload your hips take on, day in and day out, it’s little wonder that problems can crop up, especially if you lead an active lifestyle. To help you narrow down the possibilities, we want to take a closer look at labral tears in your hip — what they are, how they can develop, and what they feel like.
To that end, the team here at Western Orthopaedics turned to our resident hip specialist, Dr. Brian White, for some useful information on hip labral tears.
Hip anatomy and the role of your labrum
Anytime we discuss orthopedic injuries, we feel it’s important to first understand the anatomy of the area in question. Your hips are large ball-and-socket joints that join your legs to your pelvis. The ball portion of the joint is formed by the head of your femur, or thighbone. The socket is housed in your pelvis bone and is called your acetabulum.
To keep the femoral head stable and positioned well within the socket for easy movement, your acetabulum features a ring of fibrocartilage called the labrum. This tissue acts as a sort of gasket that unites your femur with your pelvis without allowing the two bony structures to rub together.
Labral tears — how they happen
Like any soft tissue, your labrum can tear, which typically occurs on the heels of:
- A structural issue that affects how the ball and socket fit together
- Injury, especially in activities where there’s repetitive, high-impact movements
While we mention osteoarthritis specifically, general wear and tear over the years can also weaken your labrum, making it more vulnerable to tearing.
Signs of a labral tear
One of the problems with labral tears is that it’s not uncommon for there to be no symptoms at all.
For those that do develop symptoms, they often report:
- Pain in the hip or groin
- A locking or clicking sound or sensation in the hip
- Stiffness and reduced range of motion
- A feeling of unsteadiness
Getting back to the pain for a moment, this discomfort may be a constant ache, but, more often than not, the pain flares after standing, sitting, or moving for long periods.
Diagnosing and treating labral tears
If you recognize any of the symptoms we list above, you should come see Dr. White so he can investigate further. Using imaging studies, such as X-rays, CT scans, or an MRI, Dr. White can get a closer look at the inner structures of your hip joint to locate the problem.
If Dr. White finds that there’s a tear in your labrum, your treatment will likely depend on the degree of the tear, your symptoms, and your goals. He can start out conservatively and recommend nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and physical therapy.
If your hip continues to bother you, Dr. White might suggest going a step further with labral reconstruction. During this minimally invasive procedure, Dr. White threads a tiny camera and specialized tools through a small incision to visualize and repair the damage.
If you suspect a labral tear in your hip, the first step is to contact one of our two offices in Denver or Arvada, Colorado, to set up an appointment with Dr. White.