Diagnosis

During the physical exam, your doctor will move your leg, and especially your hip joint, around in various positions to check for pain and evaluate your hip's range of motion. He or she may also want to watch you walk.

Imaging scans

A hip labral tear rarely occurs in isolation. In most cases, other structures within the hip joint also have sustained injuries. X-rays are excellent at visualizing bone. They can check for fractures and for structural abnormalities.

Detailed images of your hip's soft tissues can be provided through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). A contrast material may be injected into the hip joint space to better define a labral tear if one exists.

Anesthesia injection

Hip pain can be caused by problems within the joint or outside the joint. Your doctor may suggest injecting an anesthetic into the joint space. If this relieves your pain, it's likely that your problem is inside your hip joint.

Treatment

Treatment choices will depend on the severity of your symptoms. Some people recover with conservative treatments in a few weeks, while others may require arthroscopic surgery to repair or remove the torn portion of the labrum.

Medications

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and naproxen sodium (Aleve), can relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Pain can also be controlled temporarily with an injection of corticosteroids into the joint.

Therapy

A physical therapist can teach you exercises to maximize hip range of motion and hip strength and stability. Therapists can also analyze the movements you perform that put stress on your hip joint and help you avoid these forces.

Surgical and other procedures

If conservative treatments don't relieve your symptoms, your doctor may recommend arthroscopic surgery — in which a fiber-optic camera and surgical tools are inserted via small incisions in your skin.

Depending on the cause and extent of the tear, the surgeon may cut out and remove the torn piece of labrum or repair the torn tissue by sewing it back together.

Preparing for your appointment

While you may initially consult your family physician, he or she may refer you to a doctor who specializes in hip disorders or sports medicine.

What you can do

You may want to write a list that includes:

  • Detailed descriptions of your symptoms
  • Information about medical problems you've had
  • Information about the medical problems of your parents or siblings
  • All the medications and dietary supplements you take
  • Questions you want to ask the doctor

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor may ask:

  • Where exactly does it hurt?
  • When did the pain start?
  • Did anything precipitate it?
  • Does any activity make the pain better or worse?
Aug. 11, 2017
References
  1. Frontera WR. Hip labral tears. In: Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation: Musculoskeletal Disorders, Pain, and Rehabilitation. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2015. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Oct. 28, 2016.
  2. Johnson R. Approach to hip and groin pain in the athlete and active adult. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Oct. 28, 2016.
  3. Safran MR, et al. Instructions for Sports Medicine Patients. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Oct. 28, 2016.