A hip labral tear occurs where there is damage to the labrum within the hip joint. The hip joint is where the thigh bone (femur) meets the pelvis (Ilium). It is described as a ball-and-socket joint. This design allows the hip to move in several directions. The bony socket is surrounded by a ring of cartilage called the labrum. The labrum provides additional stability to the hip joint.
A labral tear results when a part of the labrum separates or is pulled away from the socket. Most often, a labral tear is the result of repetitive trauma to the hip, either due to running or repeated twisting and cutting.
The consequences of repetitive stress can be magnified in a hip with bony abnormalities. Hip impingement is a condition involving abnormal bony contact between the ball and socket. As the hip is moved into specific positions, this bony contact occurs, placing increased stress on the labrum.
Hip labral tears may result from a combination of several different variables, including:
- Bony abnormalities in the hip joint (hip impingement)
- Hip muscle tightness
- Hip muscle weakness
- Improper technique with repetitive activities
- Participation in sports that require distance running, or repetitive twisting and cutting
Once torn, the labral tissue in the hip does not have the ability to heal on its own. There are surgical procedures to remove or repair torn labral tissue; however, treatment for a labral tear often begins with a course of physical therapy.
Nonsurgical treatment efforts are focused on addressing symptoms by maximizing the strength and mobility of the hip to minimizing the stress placed on the injured area. In certain cases, patients are able to achieve a satisfactory level of activity without surgery.
Surgical interventions are available to clean out the hip joint, and repair or reconstruct the torn labral tissue. Following surgery, patients will complete several months of physical therapy to regain function of the hip.