Hip Labral Tear

A Look into a Hip Labral Tear

A hip labral tear is a common injury among athletes who do a lot of running or pivoting from the hips, such as soccer players and golfers. In a normal-functioning hip, the socket of the hip joint contains a ring of cartilage tissue that lines the outside of the area. This tissue is called the labrum and its job is to use the pull of suction to keep the ball portion of the joint in place. When the labrum is torn the result can mean an unstable and painful hip joint.

What causes a hip labral tear?

A labral tear can be caused by a number of things. Trauma to the joint is one of the most common factors. This can be a result of an injury resulting from a car accident, being tackled in football, or from a crushing blow during a rugby game. Of course the labrum can also be torn due to repetition. For instance, someone who performs a certain motion regularly on a day-to-day basis is more likely to strain the joint. A soccer player, for instance, would rely on his hip joint every time he kicked the ball, and if he’s a professional he would do this on a regular basis. The frequent motion required of the hip joint can soon lead to strain and eventually a tear.

Some people are at a particular risk for tearing the hip’s labrum as a result of improper hip formation. Whether the malformation occurred at birth or as a result of environmental issues during childhood when the bones were still fragile and growing, the improper formation of this area can certainly make it weaker and more susceptible to sustaining a tear. Someone who already suffers from arthritis is also at an increased risk of tearing the labrum as the lack of cartilage in this area makes it the perfect target for excessive strain and tearing.

What are the signs of a hip labral tear?

Although this particular affliction can affect individuals in different ways, there are a few symptoms that are common among most cases. The first symptom one might notice with a hip labral tear is a popping or clicking sounds as the hip is moved. The hip may also lock up on occasion or feel as though the ball portion of the joint is scratching against the socket. This is not always present with a tear, although they do seem to be quite regular. The next symptom one might notice is a pain in the general area of the hip. The type of pain felt differs among individuals and can be sharp or dull and constant. The discomfort may be felt solely in the area of the hip joint or it may even spread to the generalized groin area. The final symptom which one might notice is a limited range of motion with the joint. Walking, kicking, or spreading the legs may become difficult as the hip joint tightens or locks up during motion. This limitation may also be a result of the pain that occurs when one tries to use the hip, forcing them to stop as the pain becomes too intense.

How can the tear be treated?

After a series of tests and possibly an x-ray or two, the doctor can make a diagnosis of the tear. Provided there are no complications, the usual treatment routine begins by allowing the joint to rest. Every time the hip is moved, it can undo any healing which might have occurred or tear even worse than before. During the rest period, on should try not to put any unnecessary weight on the hip. Complex movements should also be avoided. The duration of the rest period largely depends on how severe the tear is. In most cases a few weeks of good rest is enough time to allow the labrum to heal. One might consider taking a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication such as Aleve or Motrin to reduce the pain and inflammation. In extreme or complicated cases it may be necessary to treat the area via a surgical procedure.