Labral tear in the hip

Are you under forty years old and experiencing hip pain? If so, you may well be struggling to identify what the cause of the problem is, as hip pain can be the result of a number of different issues. One cause of hip pain can be a labral tear, and in some cases, this can be debilitating and significantly impact your daily routine.

If you are not sure if your pain is being caused by a labral tear, why not visit our consultants to have it thoroughly checked out? Our multi-disciplinary team will be able to accurately and promptly diagnose the cause of your pain and then advise you on how best to move forward with your recovery.

Your hip consists of a ‘ball and socket’ joint, where the top of your thighbone (femur) sits inside the ‘socket’ of your pelvis (this is known as the acetabulum). The labrum is the band of cartilage around the rim of your hip socket, and it acts as a cushion to your hip joint. In addition to this cushioning effect, the labrum also acts like a rubber seal to help hold the ball at the top of your femur securely within the socket. When this band of cartilage is damaged, a tear can occur. These tears can be painful and disruptive to your lifestyle, and in some circumstances can increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis.

As such, you will understandably want to consult your doctor if you think you may have a labral tear. Symptoms for labral tears aren’t always apparent, but you may experience any of the following:

  • Pain in your hip or groin,
  • Stiffness in your hips,
  • Limitations in hip movements,
  • Feeling unsteady on your feet,
  • A grinding sensation when you rotate your hip outwards,
  • A clicking or locking sensation in your hip joint.

Labral tears in the hip are often associated with sports and physical activities involving sudden twisting, rotating, or pivoting motions, such as in golf, football, or hockey, but a tear can occur for a number of reasons. Potential causes include:

  • Direct trauma – you may have injured or dislocated the hip joint as a result of a bad fall, a car accident, or a contact sport, leading to a labral tear.
  • Bone abnormalities – you may have been born with hip problems such as bone spurs, causing greater-than-usual wear and tear on the hip joint, eventually resulting in a labral tear.
  • Repetitive motions – wear and tear on your hip joint may be exacerbated by some of your physical activities and sports, particularly where sudden twisting or pivoting movements occur, which could result in a tear.

Initially, our consultants will guide you through non-surgical treatments, addressing various lifestyle factors, such as what sports you play, identifying any areas that may place strain on your hips. You will likely be advised to limit any stress placed on your hips, which may mean reducing physical activity and avoiding placing your full body weight on the affected hip.

Strength and flexibility exercises can also help to condition the surrounding muscles, and our expert physiotherapy team will advise you on these and guide you through them, so you feel comfortable and confident performing them in your own home.

If the non-surgical measures outlined above have little or no success, you may be advised to have a hip arthroscopy (keyhole surgery). Should this be the case, we have two main priorities for your surgery:

  • treat you quickly, so that you’re not in pain any longer,
  • restore function and stability to your hip, so that you can carry on enjoying life as quickly as possible.

A hip arthroscopy is a common procedure, usually carried out under general anaesthetic. It will be performed by one of our leading orthopaedic surgeons, and you will often be able to go home on the same day if you have been admitted as a Day Case patient.

A small, flexible tube about the length and width of a drinking straw will be inserted into your hip joint under general anaesthetic. This is called an arthroscope, and it contains a light source and digital camera that sends images to a video screen or your surgeon's eyepiece and allows the surgeon a clear view inside the joint. Your surgeon will then use small metal or plastic ‘anchors’ and sterile thread to reattach the torn labrum to your hip socket.

Following surgery, our physiotherapy team will be with you every step of the way to ensure your recovery goes smoothly and you are fully supported as you heal.

Any kind of hip pain is disconcerting, so if you have any of the symptoms previously mentioned, speak to our friendly team, who will be happy to book you an appointment with one of Circle Health’s top orthopaedic consultants, at a time that is convenient to you. With our experienced team of healthcare professionals, you can rest assured that your hip concerns will be seen to swiftly and efficiently, with the aim of restoring your hip function and stability as soon as possible.

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Circle Health Group, 1st Floor, 30 Cannon Street, London, EC4M 6XH