A hip labral tear involves the ring of cartilage (labrum) that follows the outside rim of your hip joint socket. Besides cushioning the hip joint, the labrum acts like a rubber seal or gasket to help hold the ball at the top of your thighbone securely within your hip socket.
Athletes who participate in sports such as ice hockey, soccer, football, golf and ballet are at higher risk of developing hip labral tears. Structural abnormalities of the hip also can lead to a hip labral tear.
Many hip labral tears cause no signs or symptoms. Some people, however, have one or more of the following:
- Pain in your hip or groin, often made worse by long periods of standing, sitting or walking
- A locking, clicking or catching sensation in your hip joint
- Stiffness or limited range of motion in your hip joint
When to see a doctor
Seek medical attention if symptoms worsen or don't improve within six weeks.
The cause of a hip labral tear might be:
- Trauma. Injury to or dislocation of the hip joint — which can occur during car accidents or from playing contact sports such as football or hockey — can cause a hip labral tear.
- Structural abnormalities. Some people are born with hip problems that can accelerate wear and tear of the joint and eventually cause a hip labral tear.
- Repetitive motions. Sports-related and other physical activities — including long-distance running and the sudden twisting or pivoting motions common in golf or softball — can lead to joint wear and tear that ultimately result in a hip labral tear.
A hip labral tear can make you more likely to develop osteoarthritis in that joint in the future.
If the sports you play put a lot of strain on your hips, condition the surrounding muscles with strength and flexibility exercises.
Dec. 20, 2019
- Frontera WR, et al, eds. Hip labral tears. In: Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation: Musculoskeletal Disorders, Pain, and Rehabilitation. 4th ed. Elsevier; 2019. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Nov. 8, 2019.
- Johnson R. Approach to hip and groin pain in the athlete and active adult. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Nov. 8, 2019.
- Safran MR, et al. Acetabular (hip) labral tear, surgery for. In: Instructions for Sports Medicine Patients. 2nd ed. Elsevier; 2012. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Nov. 8, 2019.
- Paoloni J. Approach to the adult with unspecified hip pain. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Nov. 8, 2019.