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The Ins and Outs of Hip Impingement

Hip impingement, or Femoroacetabular Impingement (FAI), is a common orthopedic condition where there is abnormal contact between the ball and socket of the hip joint. This contact can lead to joint damage and pain, affecting your mobility and quality of life. This blog aims to provide a comprehensive overview of hip impingement, including its symptoms, causes, and how physical therapy can be a pivotal part of managing and treating the condition.

What is Hip Impingement?

The femur and pelvis make up the hip joint and functions as a ball-and-socket joint. The femoral head is the ball aspect of the joint and sits in a part of the pelvis called the acetabulum. Hip impingement occurs when there is an overgrowth of bone along one or both of the bones that form the hip joint — giving the bones an irregular shape. Because they do not fit together perfectly, the bones rub against each other during movement. This can also cause irritation and injury to the labrum. The labrum is a ring of cartilage along the acetabulum. There are two main types of FAI: cam impingement and pincer impingement. Cam impingement occurs when the femoral head is not perfectly round and cannot articulate smoothly with the acetabulum. A pincer impingement occurs when there is an overgrowth of bone over the rim of the acetabulum. Some individuals may have a combined impingement meaning a cam and pincer impingement are present. 

Common Symptoms 

The symptoms of hip impingement are often diverse but usually manifest as pain in the groin area which can be particularly noticeable during or after activities that require hip flexion, such as running, jumping, or extended periods of sitting. Over time, individuals may also experience stiffness or a noticeable reduction in the range of motion of the hip. Additionally, sharp, stabbing pains are common when engaging in actions that involve turning, twisting, or squatting. These symptoms tend to develop gradually and may initially only be apparent during physical activities, making early detection challenging but crucial for managing the condition effectively.

Typical Causes

Hip impingement is often caused by a combination of genetic predispositions to certain bone shapes and environmental factors such as activities that involve repetitive hip movements. Athletes, particularly those in sports requiring frequent hip flexion or rotation like soccer, hockey, and golf, are at higher risk. However, FAI can also develop from everyday activities.

How Physical Therapy Can Help

Physical therapy plays a vital role in managing hip impingement, providing a multifaceted approach to not only alleviate pain but also enhance overall joint function. This often includes restoring the range of motion and strength of the hip. Manual therapy techniques are often utilized to reduce symptoms and restore joint mobility. A physical therapist will also look to identify potential root causes for the hip dysfunction and provide strategies to further protect the hip. Each therapy program is meticulously tailored to meet the specific needs of the patient, ensuring that both the symptoms and the underlying causes of hip impingement are addressed. This comprehensive approach not only eases immediate symptoms but also contributes to long-term health and prevention of future complications, providing a robust framework for patients to regain mobility and return to their normal activities.

Additional Treatment Options

A cortisone injection is an option for individuals with persistent symptoms. This works to reduce inflammation and pain in the area. Surgery may be an option for those who do not respond to conservative care. These individuals may undergo a hip arthroscopy. This may include shaving the affected bone to restore proper articulation of the hip joint, debriding frayed labrum that is contributing to pain, or suturing a torn labrum. 

How We Can Help

The journey through recognizing, treating, and preventing hip impingement underscores the crucial nature of maintaining hip health, especially for those frequently engaged in activities that put stress on the hip joint. It is vital for such individuals to proactively manage their hip health, utilizing education, precise training, and expert medical advice to steer clear of potential injuries. This proactive stance not only mitigates immediate discomfort but also ensures long-term functionality.

Consulting one of our skilled physical therapists can be a pivotal step in your rehabilitation journey. Our experts specialize in crafting personalized therapy programs tailored to address your specific needs, focusing on exercises and techniques designed to improve joint function and prevent future injuries. By leveraging professional advice and tailored assessments, you can ensure your hips are prepared to handle the demands of your daily and athletic activities.

Take the first step toward safeguarding your hip health by scheduling a consultation with an i’move physical therapist today. Let us guide you on a path to stronger, more resilient hips through the power of physical therapy. Your journey toward better hip health starts with informed action—let’s get started together. Give us a call to schedule a consultation with one of our physical therapists today and become a stronger, healthier you!

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