A hip labral tear involves the ring of cartilage (labrum) that follows the outside rim of the socket of your hip joint. In addition to 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 such sports as ice hockey, soccer, football, golf and ballet are at higher risk of developing a hip labral tear. Structural abnormalities of the hip also can lead to a hip labral tear.
Many hip labral tears cause no signs or symptoms. Occasionally, however, you may experience one or more of the following:
- A locking, clicking or catching sensation in your hip joint
- Pain in your hip or groin
- 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 may 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 the sudden twisting or pivoting motions common in golf or softball — can lead to joint wear and tear that ultimately results in a hip labral tear.
A hip labral tear may predispose you to develop osteoarthritis in that joint in the future.
Hip labral tears are often associated with sports participation. If your sport puts a lot of strain on your hips, condition the surrounding muscles with strength and flexibility exercises. Try to avoid loading your hip with your full body weight when your legs are in positions at the extreme ends of your hip's normal range of motion.