Hip Impingement

What is hip impingement?

Your hip joint is known as a ball-and-socket joint. The head of your thighbone, also known as the femoral head, is the ball and fits firmly in the hip socket. Your hip socket is located at the base of your pelvis and is referred to as the acetabulum. Covering the femoral head and acetabulum are various types of cartilage that help provide joint stability and allow the femoral head to effortlessly slide within the acetabulum during movement.

Hip impingement, also referred to as femoroacetabular impingement (FAI), is a condition in which there is bone overgrowth either on the femoral head, the acetabulum, or both. These bone overgrowths are known as bone spurs and can interrupt the normally smooth connection between the two bones, causing the bones to rub against each other, which can eventually lead to joint damage, pain, and decreased mobility.

What causes hip impingement?

Hip impingement is caused by abnormal development of the hip bones during childhood years. The abnormal bone deformity can occur on the femoral head or in the acetabulum. A deformity of the femoral head is called a cam impingement and cause the femoral head to get locked in the acetabulum as the hip bends. A deformity of the acetabulum is referred to as a pincer impingement and can sometimes cause the upper thigh bone to come into contact with the rim of the hip socket. A deformity that exists on both bones is known as a combined impingement.

What are the symptoms of hip impingement?

During the initial stages, hip impingement is usually symptomless. When symptoms do begin to occur, it is sometimes known as hip impingement syndrome. Initial symptoms of hip impingement may include:

  • Pain near the groin area
  • Pain when flexing the hip or walking
  • Impaired mobility

As hip impingement progresses, you may experience pain during low-impact activities, including walking and sitting. Pain may also occur at night or when at rest. This can be an indication that the cartilage protecting your bones has begun to deteriorate — a symptom of osteoarthritis.

How is hip impingement diagnosed?

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms or believe you have a hip impingement, an evaluation by an experienced medical professional can help determine the cause of your symptoms. To help diagnose hip impingement, your doctor will begin by going over your medical history and symptoms. Next, your doctor will perform various physical exams to help assess your mobility, strength, and degree of pain.

To ensure that your symptoms are not the result of similar conditions and to help confirm a diagnosis, your doctor may perform additional testing. Additional testing may include X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans to provide in-depth imaging.

How is hip impingement treated?

If you are suffering from hip impingement and are seeking pain relief, there are surgical and nonsurgical treatment options available. Based on various factors, such as your activity level and health, treatment will vary.

Here at our practice, whenever possible, we aim to first recommend nonsurgical treatments to help restore mobility, alleviate pain, and prevent the progression of damage. Nonsurgical treatment may include:

  • Resting and avoiding activities that induce hip pain
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to bring down swelling and pain
  • Physical therapy and exercise to improve joint mobility, strength, and stability
  • Steroid injections to help alleviate hip pain

When nonsurgical treatment options are ineffective, we specialize in and offer surgical treatment options such as arthroscopy to help provide pain relief and repair and restore hip function. Platelet-rich plasma therapy may also be used to help promote healing, alleviate pain, and enhance recovery time.

If you are experiencing symptoms of hip impingement, a consultation with an orthopedic specialist may be the first step towards diagnosis, treatment, and recovery. Dr. Burrus is an experienced fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon who is dedicated to providing high-quality, specialized holistic care. Call 512.477.6341 or fill out the form on this page to schedule an appointment.