The hip joint is a ball (femoral head )and socket (acetabulum) joint. The labrum is a soft ring of cartilage that lines the acetabulum and helps keep the femoral head from slipping out of the acetabulum. It also enables the ball glide smoothly in the socket.
A tear of the labrum can cause hip pain, and if untreated can lead to premature arthritis in the hip joint. A labral tear may be asymptomatic or can cause pain and stiffness in the hip. Patients can also describe symptoms of locking or clicking sound in the hip.
Conditions such as hip impingement or hip dysplasia cause imperfections in the structure of the hip joint, so that the ball and socket don’t fit together properly. The abnormal movement that these conditions cause can damage the labrum. People who participate in some sports are at risk for hip labral tears. A direct hit to the joint can injure the hip and result in labral tears. Certain repetitive movements can also lead to hip injuries that cause labral tears. Labral tears can also be part of Osteoarthritis of the hip joint.
Labral tears are diagnosed based on clinical examination and combination of other Imaging tests such X-rays or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or magnetic resonance arthrogram (MRA).
Minor labral tears without structural abnormalities can be managed with rest, physiotherapy and anti-inflammatory pain relievers. In some cases, a steroid injection in the joint might be considered to provide symptomatic relief.
For more extensive tears with unresolving symptoms, a hip arthroscopy (Keyhole surgery) might be recommended. In this procedure, 2 or 3 small cuts are made around the hip joint for the camera and surgical instruments. The damaged labral tissue may be repaired, rebuilt, or trimmed. Often the cause of the labral tear, such as hip impingement is also treated at the same time.