If you have pain in your hip or groin, it could be because of a hip labral tear. Your hip joint may be damaged, but that doesn’t always mean you need surgery. There are effective ways to deal with your symptoms that don’t involve surgery. But labral tears in the hip can’t be fixed without surgery. Hip surgeries are common and mostly safe, which is good news.
What is a Hip Labral Tear?
The hip is a ball and socket joint, where the top of the thigh bone, called the femur, is like a “ball” that fits into the “socket” of the pelvis. A ring of cartilage called the labrum goes around the socket of the hip joint which holds the joint together, keeps the femur in the socket, and helps the joint move smoothly.
Any tear or damage to the labrum in the hip joint is called a labral hip tear. These problems can be small, like fraying, or big, like coming completely apart.
This usually doesn’t get better on its own, so you may need surgery to fix a hip labral tear. You can do a lot to deal with the symptoms, but this is only true for minor tears. You can use anti-inflammatory drugs to make the pain easier to deal with, but this is not a cure and it is not a permanent solution.
Symptoms of a Hip Labral Tear
There are many signs of a torn labrum in the hip. If you are in moderate to severe pain or have other symptoms that worry you, you should see an orthopedic specialist. The following are signs of a torn labrum in the hip joint:
Pain and stiffness issues
- Hip, thigh, buttocks, or groin pain
- Pain gets worse with bending, rotating, walking, running, or playing sports
- Pain gets worse at night while sleeping
- Pain may occur when sitting or relaxing for more than 30 minutes
- Pain in the hip when standing
Issues with mobility
- Feeling unsteady or off balance when standing or walking
- The feeling of hip giving way
- The need to use a railing when going upstairs
- Difficulty walking for long distances
- Limited range of motion in the hip
- Clicking or grinding sounds coming from the hip area
- Locking feelings or sounds
- Cracking noises
Causes of a Hip Labral Tear
Many things can cause a tear in the labrum of the hip, and not all of them will need surgery. Most labral tears are caused by one of the following:
- Femoral Acetabular Impingement (FAI) – Also called hip impingements, and happens when the femur doesn’t fit right into the hip socket. This causes long-term pain and makes it hard to move, and is the most common cause of hip labral tears
- Hip Dysplasia – A condition where the socket doesn’t fully cover the head of the femur bone and allows for dislocations and labral tears of the hip joint
Normal Wear and Tear
- Repetitive motions and overuse – This is typically seen in the workplace and is the most common cause of hip labral tears in athletes and players in high-impact sports
- Age – The labrum of the hip can tear at any age, but as we get older, it can slowly wear away, which can cause tears and fraying
- Impact and other forces – A car accident or a fall can hurt the hip labrum and surrounding areas of the joint
- Degenerative diseases – Osteoarthritis and other similar conditions can wear away at the labrum, which can lead to tears and fraying
- Obesity – Too much weight puts extra stress on the hip joint, which wears it down over time
Surgical Treatment for a Hip Labral Tear
Your doctor may suggest surgery for a hip labral tear if other treatments don’t work, if the tear is severe, if you have a limited range of motion and less mobility, or if you have a serious hip impingement.
Pros of Surgery
- Pain from a hip labral tear can be relieved with surgery
- Range of motion can improve
- Stopping more or permanent hip pain
- Hip labral tear surgery has a high success rate
- Surgery to fix a labral tear in the hip is a relatively safe procedure
What to Expect after Hip Labral Tear Surgery
In most cases, you will be able to go home the same day as your surgery and will need crutches or a walker for 1 to 2 weeks. After arthroscopic surgery for a hip labral tear, the symptoms go away almost immediately, but there may be some swelling and pain as the hip heals.
You might feel like water is in your hip or hear gurgling sounds. These are caused by the fluids used during surgery and will go away quickly. About 7 to 10 days after surgery, the stitches are taken out. You will need physical therapy for about six weeks, and you can expect to be pain-free for about three to six months after that.
Recovery times will be different for each hip surgery. Your doctor, surgeon, and physical therapist will help you figure out when it is safe for you to go back to work and sports.
Physical Therapy after Surgery
Physical therapy is an important part of getting better after surgery to fix a hip labral tear. Most of the time, sessions start a few days after your surgery and go on for 12 weeks. During this time, your physical therapist will show you exercises that will not only help you get better faster but will also help you get your strength and mobility back in a healthy way.
Getting Treated at TOCDOCs
Labral tears can cause pain in the hip. If your hip hurts or you can’t move it as much as you’d like, both non-surgical and surgical treatments can help repair, heal, and relieve pain. The best thing to do is to see a doctor right away to keep the hip joint from getting worse.