A hip labral tear is an injury to the labrum, the ring of cartilage that follows the outside rim of your hip joint socket.
You are at higher risk for developing a labral tear of the hip if you have underlying bony abnormalities, including subtle abnormalities of the ball and socket with too much or too little bone. Risk is also higher if you participate in sports or repetitive hip flexion activities, such as sitting and driving.
Treatment for labral tears varies from physical therapy to hip arthroscopy.
A damaged labrum affects your hip's function
The labral cartilage has multiple roles in hip function including cushioning, stability, and nutrition to the hip.
When damaged, the labrum can cause pain in the hip and groin and reduce your hip function. A torn labrum occurs over time from wear and tear to the hip, especially if repetitive motion is a factor, as in running or certain sports, and is a fairly common sports injury.
Get an expert evaluation for your hip pain
If you are experiencing hip pain or groin pain, or you have received a referral, make an appointment today with a UCHealth orthopedic and sports medicine specialist for a physical exam and the right treatment plan for your case. We will work with you on a customized plan that will have you enjoying your favorite physical activities again as soon as possible.
Hip labral tears: causes and symptoms
Among the causes of a hip labral tear:
Femoroacetabular impingement (FAI), or hip impingement. Structural abnormalities that develop in some people from sport or genetics, causing wear and tear and eventually leading to a labral tear of the hip. FAI is the most common cause of a labral tear, and activities such as running, cycling, jumping, soccer, tennis and gymnastics further accelerate the damage.
Repetitive motions. Sports and other physical activities that are repetitive and have sudden twisting or pivoting motions.
Trauma. A sports injury or a dislocation of the hip joint can occur from playing contact sports such as football and hockey, or from a car accident or serious fall.
Hip instability. Most commonly called hip dysplasia, this occurs when the socket is shallow, resulting in more stress on the labrum and eventual tearing of the cartilage.
Many hip labral tears cause no pain or other symptoms, but some do present with:
- Pain in your hip or groin, often made worse by long periods of standing, sitting or walking.
- A locking, clicking or catching sensation.
- Stiffness or limited range of motion.
You should see a UCHealth orthopedic specialist if your symptoms worsen or don’t improve within six weeks. If left untreated, a labral tear will cause symptoms to worsen and may cause permanent damage.
Treatments for hip labral tears
Your personalized treatment plan will depend on the severity of your symptoms. Some of our patients recover with conservative treatments in just a few weeks, while others need arthroscopic surgery to repair or remove the torn portion of the labrum. Your plan may include:
- Injections. Can relieve pain and inflammation.
- Medications. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen can relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
- Physical therapy. A physical therapist can teach you exercises to maximize hip range of motion and hip core strength and stability. Therapists can also teach you to avoid movements that put stress on your hip joint.
If these don’t relieve your symptoms, your provider might recommend arthroscopic surgery, a procedure where your surgeon inserts an arthroscope, a small tube with a camera and surgical tools, through small incisions in your hip. Your surgeon will perform the right technique for your case, which may include:
- Partial removal. Your surgeon removes the torn piece of labrum. This is the more common procedure.
- Repair. Your surgeon sews the labrum back together.
- Reconstruction. Your surgeon can create a new labral cartilage from cadaver tissue to create a new labrum within your hip.
After arthroscopic surgery, it can take several weeks to a few months before you can return to sports. Your treatment plan will outline proper recovery and how you should approach returning to the activities you love.
We can help.
Our orthopedic and sports medicine specialists have deep expertise in treating an array of joint conditions. They treat hip labral tears frequently, for patients of all ages and activity levels.
We are ready to work with you on the right treatment plan to help you regain a lifestyle without hip pain.
National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI): National Library of Medicine. A comprehensive review of hip labral tears (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2697339/)
Pubmed: National Library of Medicine. Meniscal tear – presentation, diagnosis and management (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22472678/)