A hip labral tear is an injury of the hip labrum, which is a cartilage that lines the acetabulum (the hip socket the head of the femur). A hip labral tear often occurs gradually as a result of the labrum being put under more stress due to an underlying hip joint issue.
Athletes who participate in contact sports like football or hockey are more likely to sustain hip labral tears. Some people may be more susceptible to hip injuries due to structural differences.
Symptoms of Hip Labral Tear
- Hip pain or groin pain
- A hip joint that “catches,” “locks,” or “clicks”
- Limited range of motion in the hip joint
- Unequal leg length
- Limping when walking
- Stiffness in the hip, thigh, or groin
- Inability to flex the hip beyond a right angle
Types of Hip Labral Tear
Depending on where the labrum is torn, there are often two types of labral rips:
- Anterior tears: These occur on the joint’s side closest to a person’s abdomen
- Posterior tears: Develops on the side of the joint closest to an individual’s back
Diagnosis of Hip Labral Tear
Labral tears can be challenging to diagnose since they share symptoms with other hip conditions. They are often misdiagnosed as groin strains.
A sports medicine orthopedist will conduct a physical examination and take into account the patient’s symptoms to determine a diagnosis. He/she might manipulate the hip in different ways to see whether the patient feels any pain or clicking.
The treatment team may order imaging tests should they suspect that the patient’s labrum might be torn. Imaging tests could include:
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): The test uses electromagnetic fields to create images of the patient’s body. It can help the doctor in locating unusual structures or tears in the labrum or other soft tissue in the hip.
- X-ray: An X-ray of the hip can help detect structural issues and signs of arthritis.
- Magnetic resonance arthrogram (MRA): This is a special type of MRI that requires a medical specialist to inject a dye into the patient’s hip joint. An MRA produces images that emphasize or contrast the hip cartilage and joint space in relation to the rest of the bones.
Treatment of Hip Labral Tear
Hip labral tear may be treated with open surgery or minimally invasive treatment, depending on the extent of the tear.
- Surgical hip dislocation: Rarely, patients will need open surgery as a form of treatment. This is recommended when a person has a labral tear along with other difficulties, such as a lot of excess bone or a structural abnormality. The femoral head is displaced from its natural resting position in the acetabulum during surgical hip dislocation.
- Hip arthroscopy: This is a minimally invasive approach and the most preferred technique for treating labral tears and any underlying issues. During this procedure, an arthroscope, a thin tube with a lens and light source, is introduced into the hip joint through a small incision. This enables the doctor to diagnose the problem and treat the hip joint and its surrounding components.
Recovery After Hip Labral Tear Treatment
The patient might need crutches for about two weeks after surgery, depending on the underlying problem that led to the labral tear. Following surgery, one can resume his/her regular sports activities in two to four months.