Hip Impingement: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

Author: Thomas C. Weiss
Published: 2015/07/29 - Updated: 2021/08/07
Peer-Reviewed: N/A
Contents: Summary - Main - Related Publications

Synopsis: Information regarding hip impingement syndrome, symptoms include stiffness in the groin or front of thigh, and loss of full range of hip motion. A person may have hip impingement for years without knowing it, simply because it is often times not painful in its early stages. When hip impingement causes symptoms, it might be referred to as, 'hip impingement syndrome.' Pain usually happens at night, or when the person walks on flat ground, suggesting the cartilage which cushions the ball and socket has started to break down and wear away, a condition known as, 'osteoarthritis.'

Main Digest

A person's hip is the joint where their thigh bone meets their pelvis. It is called a, 'ball-and-socket,' joint because the ball-like top of the thigh bone fits into a cup-like area within the person's pelvis. Usually, the ball glides smoothly within the socket, although an issue with the ball-and-socket may interfere with smooth motion.

Hip Impingement Syndrome, or Femoroacetabular Impingement (FAI), may affect the hip joint in young and middle-aged adults and occurs when the ball shaped femoral head rubs abnormally or does not permit a normal range of motion in the acetabular socket. Damage can occur to the articular cartilage, or labral cartilage, or both. The issue may cause hip impingement or, 'femoro acetabular impingement (FAI).' It is thought to be a major cause of early osteoarthritis of the hip, especially in people who are over the age of forty. Treatment options range from conservative to arthroscopic to open surgery.

Symptoms of Hip Impingement

A person may have hip impingement for years without knowing it, simply because it is often times not painful in its early stages. When hip impingement causes symptoms, it might be referred to as, 'hip impingement syndrome.' The main symptoms include stiffness in the person's groin or front of their thigh, as well as a loss of their hip's full range of motion.

At first, a person might only feel pain when they move their hip near to its limitations. As the condition progresses; however, an affected person may experience pain with more subtle activities such as walking up a hill or sitting for an extended period of time. Pain usually happens at night, or when the person walks on flat ground, suggesting the cartilage which cushions the ball and socket has started to break down and wear away, a condition known as, 'osteoarthritis.'

Causes of Hip Impingement

A couple of main causes of hip impingement exist. A deformity of the ball at the top of the femur referred to as, 'cam impingement,' is one of these. If the head is not shaped as it should be, a part of the head may jam in the socket when the person's hip is bent. It may happen during activities such as riding a bicycle or tying your shoes.

A deformity of the socket or, 'pincer impingement,' is another cause. If the front rim of the socket called the, 'acetabulum,' sticks out too far, the area of the thigh bone just below the ball called the, 'neck of the femur,' might bump into the rim of the socket during usual hip flexion movement. In other instances there is an issue with both the ball and the socket. Additional issues that may cause hip impingement include conditions like:

Tests and Diagnosis

If you experience symptoms of hip impingement, a doctor can diagnose the issue based upon your description of your symptoms, the findings of imaging tests, as well as a physical examination. The tests might include one or more of the ones below:

Treating Hip Impingement

Treatment for hip impingement should start with resting the hip that is affected. It should modify your activities to avoid moving the joint in a way that causes the person pain. Exercising as recommend by your doctor or physical therapist to strengthen the muscles that support your hip is another part of treatment, as is taking anti-inflammatory and pain medications.

If these types of treatments fail to relieve your pain, a doctor might recommend hip impingement surgery. The type of surgery a person needs depends on the issue causing hip impingement and how much cartilage damage has happened.

If the hip that is affected does not have too much cartilage damage, a surgeon may use tools to reshape the ball and/or the outside edge of the socket that is catching on the thigh bone. In a technique called, 'micro-fracture,' a surgeon might also cut away the frayed cartilage that is causing pain, or drill holes into patches of bone where cartilage has worn away with the goal of simulating cartilage growth. Micro-fracture is being used less often than it had been.

Often times surgery for hip impingement can be performed arthroscopically. Arthroscopic surgery is a technique involving the insertion of a lighted scope and thin tools through small incisions over a person's hip instead of making a large incision. Arthroscopy is usually an outpatient surgery, meaning you can return home on the same day as the surgery.

The earlier you have surgery, the greater the chances you will recover completely. Yet even if cartilage has been damaged, surgery might still reduce pain while improving your range of motion. If cartilage damage is severe; however, hip replacement may be the only treatment that will relieve pain while improving function. There are promising treatments, including one in which parts of your own blood are injected into joints to stimulate cartilage growth.

Author Credentials:

Thomas C. Weiss is a researcher and editor for Disabled World. Thomas attended college and university courses earning a Masters, Bachelors and two Associate degrees, as well as pursing Disability Studies. As a Nursing Assistant Thomas has assisted people from a variety of racial, religious, gender, class, and age groups by providing care for people with all forms of disabilities from Multiple Sclerosis to Parkinson's; para and quadriplegia to Spina Bifida. Explore Thomas' complete biography for comprehensive insights into his background, expertise, and accomplishments.

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Cite This Page (APA): Thomas C. Weiss. (2015, July 29). Hip Impingement: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment. Disabled World. Retrieved February 24, 2024 from www.disabled-world.com/health/orthopedics/impingement.php

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