Acetabular Labral Tear

Any damage to the labrum within your hip joint can lead to a hip labral tear. Your hip joint is a ball-and-socket joint and is where your pelvis (Ilium) connects with the thighbone (femur). The labrum is a ring of cartilage that surrounds the bony socket of your hip joint and offers stability to the joint. Due to an injury, a part of the labrum may get pulled away from the socket or separate completely, which is called an acetabular labral tear. 

Causes of Acetabular Labral Tear

A number of problems can lead to a labral tear. For instance:

  • Trauma: It is the most common cause of having this tear. Any dislocation of or injury to the hip joint as a result of car accident or other traumatic injuries can cause the tear.
  • Structural abnormalities: You may develop a hip labral tear due to wear and tear of the joint caused mainly by structural abnormalities.
  • Repetitive motions: Certain physical activities involving sudden pivoting or twisting motions can put repetitive stress on the hip joint. Overtime, this may lead to joint wear and tear, which will eventually cause a hip labral tear.

Symptoms of Acetabular Labral Tear

You will experience serious pain in the groin or in the front of the hip if there is a hip labral tear. This affects how you move and even limits your ability to walk, stand, squat, climb stairs, or participate in many other activities. Due to an acetabular labral tear, you may experience:

  • Painful clicking caused by hip movements
  • Pain that becomes worse with prolonged walking or sitting
  • Pain in the groin or hip when squatting
  • Pain that becomes worse gradually
  • Weakness in the muscles around the hip
  • Stiffness in the hip

Note: Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider if your symptoms become worse or do not show any improvement within six weeks.

Treatments for Acetabular Labral Tear

When your symptoms do not improve over time, your doctor will try a variety of treatment options to relieve your pain. Those treatments often include:

1. Medications

Your doctor may prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as naproxen and ibuprofen to alleviate pain and inflammation. In some cases, you may have to take an injection of corticosteroids into the joint to relieve pain temporarily.

2. Physical Therapies

Working with a physical therapist may help improve the motion range of hip along with improving hip stability and strengthen. Your therapist will analyze your movements, explain what you should or should avoid, and teach you some exercises to improve hip strength. The exercises may include the following:

  • Hip flexion exercises

Your therapist will teach you some hip flexion exercises to help regain normal hip flexion, stability, and range of motion after surgery. You will begin with light stretches to improve hip flexion.

A simple stretch involves lying on the back and raising your knee toward your chest until you feel a light stretch or pain sensation. Performing this stretch regularly can help improve hip flexibility.

  • Hip rotation exercises

Your therapist will prescribe and test hip rotation exercises through the treatment. The focus will be on your external rotation and hip abduction.

Lie on your back and let your knee drop to your side. Keep dropping it outside until you feel the stretch. For hip abduction, lie on your back and take your leg to your side while keeping the knee as straight as possible. Then return to your starting position.

  • Squats and clamshell exercises

You may get an acetabular labral tear due to weak back and gluteal muscles. When these muscles are weak, you tend to put more pressure on your hip joint, which results in an injury.

Both squats and clamshell exercises will help improve the strength of your gluteal muscles. Doing squats with a resistance band may also help. Clamshells involve being on the floor on your side with your knees and hips bent and ankles close together. You have to move your knees apart while making sure the hips stay in line.

  • Lumbar stabilization exercises

Lumbar stabilization exercises help strengthen weak core and back muscles. These exercises also prevent recurrence of labral hip tears.

Bridges help improve strength in your lumbar spine. Start with your back on the floor and knees bent. Lift your hips off the floor until your gluteal muscles are engaged. Hold this position and then return to the starting position.

  • Pool exercises

Your physical therapist may also recommend pool therapy to help accelerate recovery. These exercises are effective because they do not put any stress on your hip joint. Simply simulating running in the pool helps improve movement and strength in the hip joint.

3. Surgical Treatment

You may have to consider undergoing a surgery if your symptoms do not improve within eight weeks of after non-operative treatments. An arthroscopic surgery is often suggested in this case, which involves inserting a small tube with a camera attached to it into the hip joint. The doctor will make 2-3 small incisions to insert the tube and other surgical instruments to examine the labrum and repair portions of the torn labrum. The doctor can also examine soft tissues around the hip joint as well as the articular cartilage to identify any loose bodies, inflammation, bone spurs, etc. The doctor may consider removing those spurs and close the incisions with sutures, small bandages, or steri-strips to complete the procedure. 

 
 
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