Hip Labral Tear

What is a hip labral tear?

Your hip is one of the two ball-and-socket joints in the human body, the other being the shoulder. Within this ball-and-socket joint is a labrum. A labrum is a thin piece of soft tissue that covers the acetabulum, or hip socket. The labrum helps your femoral head glide smoothly throughout the joint, as well as acts as a seal that keeps the ball and socket together without touching. When this thin piece of tissue rips, tears, or separates from the acetabulum, that is known as a labral tear of the hip.

What causes a labral tear?

A labral tear can have many different possible causes. These include:

labral tear – Structural Ailments 

Conditions causing abnormal hip movement can lead to hip labral tears over time. Femoroacetabular Impingement (FAI), occurs when the femoral head does not fit correctly into the socket. This can cause movement limitations and well as improper mechanics which can lead to a labral tear. In fact, FAI is the number one cause of labral tears. If Femoroacetabular Impingement is left untreated, this can result in Osteoarthritis of the hip.

Labral Tear – Injury

 Acute trauma to the hip can lead to a hip labral tear. People who play sports with high-impact or repetitive movements can lead to a labral tear.

Labral Tear – Degenerative Health Conditions

 Osteoarthritis is the chronic wear down of the cartilage between joints. This cartilage degeneration can make it more prone to tearing. Older age and excessive weight are factors that can increase one’s chance of developing osteoarthritis. Typically, those with osteoarthritis feel it in more than one joint, such as both the hip and knee.

Labral Tear Symptoms

Symptoms of a labral tear can vary based on the individual, where the tear is located, and how severe the tear is. Common symptoms of a hip labral tear are:

  • Hip pain and stiffness
  • Pain in the groin or buttocks area
  • Feeling clicking or locking while moving the hip (Snapping hip)
  • Feelings on instability while walking or standing


Labral Tear – Diagnoses and treatment

To diagnose a hip labral tear, your AOA Orthopedic Specialist will order an MRI Arthrogram. Because the hip joint is so deep, dye must be injected in order to properly evaluate the tissue. A skilled injector will inject dye into the hip joint under fluoroscope and then an MRI will be performed.

X-rays will also be performed to check for any signs or osteoarthritis or bony abnormalities.

If a hip labral tear is observed from the MRI results, surgery will be performed to repair the tear. Depending on the severity of the tear, the surgeon may be able to simply debride or shave off the torn portion. If the labrum is torn off of the acetabular rim, the surgeon will use anchors to repair it. In the rare case that the labrum is non-repairable, a labral reconstruction will be performed. In a labral reconstruction, a graft will be used to reconstruct the labrum, which will then be anchored to the acetabular rim.


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