Labral Hip Tear
What is a Labral Hip Tear?
A labral hip tear is a rupture or tear of the acetabular labrum, the cartilage surrounding the socket of the hip joint.
This injury is often caused by femoracetabular impingement. Rubbing of the femoral head against the acetabulum causes friction and gradually tears the labrum. It can also be caused by acute trauma to the hip, or condition resulting in a malformation of the hip, for example hip dysplasia.
What is Hip Impingement?
Hip impingement, also known as femoracetabular impingement, refers to abnormal contact and friction between the bones in the hip joint. This is usually caused by an imperfect fit between the head of the femur (the ball of the hip joint) and acetabulum (the socket of the hip joint). As a result, the labrum, which surrounds and stabilises the joint, is pinched as the bones rub together, causing pain.
What are the Symptoms of a Labral Tear?
Common symptoms of a labral tear of the hip are:
- Pain in the front of the hip or groin, which may radiate to the buttocks.
- Feeling of stiffness, weakness, or instability in the affected hip.
- Locking or catching sensation while moving the leg.
- Limited range of hip movement.
- Change in posture or gait.
How is a Hip Labral Tear Diagnosed?
Your orthopaedic surgeon will conduct an examination to assess your hip joint’s range of motion. X-rays can reveal irregularities such as an abnormally positioned joint that might be causing the condition. An MRI scan may identify and evaluate the damage to the labrum (in some cases an MRI arthrogram, which involves injecting dye into the hip joint, is done to more clearly see the damage on MRI). In some cases, injecting anaesthetic into the joint can assist in diagnosing the condition, as this will alleviate pain caused by a torn labrum.
Do Hip Labral Tears Heal Themselves?
Unfortunately, a labral hip tear won’t heal itself, but most cases respond well to conservative treatment.
A combination of physiotherapy and anti-inflammatory medications usually leads to pain from most labral hip tears dissipating within several weeks.
Arthroscopic Surgery for Labral Hip Tears
Minimally invasive keyhole labral tear hip surgery may be necessary if the tear doesn’t respond to conservative treatment. During this procedure, your orthopaedic surgeon will make several small incisions around the hip, and will insert a small camera through one of them to view the damaged labrum. They will operating on the labrum through the other incisions with special instruments. The damaged cartilage is reattached to the bone with special absorbable anchors to ensure the stability of the hip.
The success rate for labral tear hip surgery is high. Most patients can walk and participate in low-impact physical activity immediately after surgery but need to avoid full weight-bearing on the joint for several weeks. Our rehabilitation specialist will work with your physiotherapist or exercise physiologist to implement a detailed rehabilitation program.
You will usually follow up with your surgeon in the week following the surgery, and then monthly following that to confirm that you are recovering smoothly.
Within 8-12 weeks, most patients should have nearly completely recovered.