Labral tears in the hip can happen to anyone, but athletes who play high-impact sports are more likely to be affected. First, let’s review hip labral tear symptoms and treatment options. 

Here at CONA, we pride ourselves in the utmost orthopedic care, and if you are struggling with hip pain, we can help guide you to the best treatment and care. Let’s learn about hip labral tears below. 

What is a Hip Labral Tear?

A hip labral tear is an injury to the ring of cartilage, called the labrum, that goes around the outside of the hip joint socket. The labrum cushions the hip joint and helps keep the ball at the top of the thighbone in the hip socket by acting like a rubber seal or gasket. People who play sports like ice hockey, soccer, football, golf, and ballet are more likely to tear their hip labrum. A hip labral tear is also caused by structural issues someone may be born with.

Types of Hip Labral Tears

Any place along the labrum of the hip can tear. Doctors sometimes call labral tears “anterior” or “posterior,” depending on which part of the joint is affected:

  • Anterior hip labral tears – The most common kind of hip labral tear is in the front of the hip. The front of the hip joint is where these tears happen.
  • Posterior hip labral tears – These tears happen on the back of the hip joint

Hip Labral Tear Symptoms

Many labral tears in the hip don’t have any signs or symptoms, but some people may have at least one of the following:

  • Hip or groin pain is often made worse by standing, sitting, walking, or doing sports for a long time.
  • A feeling that the hip joint is locked, clicking, or catching
  • Hip joint stiffness or a small range of motion
  • You are feeling unsteady on your feet.

Common Causes of a Hip Labral Tear

Many things can lead to hip labral tears. However, here are the most common causes:

  • Trauma – The labrum can tear if the hip joint is hurt or moves out of place. This can happen in car accidents or while playing football or hockey, which are both contact sports.
  • Structural issues – Some people are born with hip problems that can cause the joint to wear out faster and, in the long run, cause a hip labral tear. This can happen if the socket doesn’t completely cover the ball part of the upper thigh bone, called dysplasia, or if the socket is shallow, which can put more stress on the labrum. Extra bone in the hip, called femoroacetabular impingement, or FAI, can also pinch the labrum, which can cause it to tear over time.
  • Repetitive movements – Joint wear and tear from sports, and other physical activities, like long-distance running and the sudden twisting or pivoting (common in golf and softball), can cause a hip labral tear.

Hip Labral Tear Treatment Options

Treatment for a hip labral tear will depend on the severity of the tear and other information about the patient, like age, activity level, and more. There are non-surgical and surgical options for patients who are struggling with a hip labral tear:

  • Nonsurgical – A labral tear in the hip won’t heal on its own, but rest and other things can help with the pain and other symptoms of a small tear. Some nonsurgical treatments include:
    • Anti-inflammatory drugs – You can buy pain relievers like ibuprofen without a prescription that can help reduce swelling.
    • Medication injections – Steroids and other drugs can be injected by a doctor into the hip joint to help ease the pain.
    • Physical therapy – Certain exercises that stretch and strengthen the hip muscles may help ease hip pain. Most of the time, a doctor’s order is needed to begin physical therapy.
  • Surgical – If the symptoms don’t go away or the tear is bad, your doctor may suggest surgery. Most of the time, hip labrum tears are fixed with arthroscopy, which is a minimally invasive surgery where the doctor only makes minor cuts in the hip and uses small tools to do the following:
    • Refixation or repair – Sewing back together the torn tissue
    • Reconstruction – Reconfiguring damaged tissue using healthy tissue from elsewhere in your body or from a donor
    • Debridement – Removing a small piece of labral tissue.
    • If FAI is also present, it will be removed at the same time to help keep the labrum from tearing again.

Most of the time, arthroscopic surgery is done as an outpatient procedure, meaning the patient can go home the same day.

What is Recovery from Hip Labral Tear Surgery Like?

Most of the time, arthroscopy of the hip is an outpatient procedure, which means you can go home the same day. However, most people have to wear a brace for about three weeks after hip surgery, you’ll need crutches for a few weeks, and you won’t be able to put any weight on your hip for at least a week. 

Your surgeon will discuss how the surgery went and give you a personalized plan for getting better. Your recovery plan may include the following:

  • No pressure or weight on your hip, even when you’re sleeping
  • Ice and elevate
  • NSAIDs, like ibuprofen, can help with pain after surgery
  • Keeping the incision clean and covered
  • Instead of taking baths, you should take showers until the incision heals

After the first week after surgery, you may wonder when you can return to work and your everyday life. If your job is low-activity, like working in an office, you can go back to work in one to two weeks after surgery to fix a hip labral tear. 

If your job is hard on your hip, you can work with your physical therapists to find a safe date to go back to work or talk to your manager or supervisor about making changes to your job so you can ease back into work as you heal.

Are you struggling with hip pain from a possible hip labral tear? Here at CONA, our physicians are professional, experienced, and ready to help you get back to your normal activities pain-free. So call us at (864)582-6396 to set up an appointment. 

Make an Appointment
with A CONA Specialist!

If you are experiencing hip pain, we encourage you to make an appointment with a Carolina Orthopaedic and Neurosurgical Associates (CONA) Board Certified and Fellowship Trained Hip Specialist as soon as possible. We have offices located in Spartanburg, Duncan and Greenville, SC.

Remember, the road to recovery starts when you walk through our doors.

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