What is Hip Impingement?
Your hip joint is a ball and socket. That is, the rounded top of your thigh bone, the “ball” part, should fit snugly and smoothly into the hip socket, medically known as the acetabulum, to form the hip joint.
With hip impingement, however, also known as femoroacetabular impingement, the hip joint doesn’t move as freely as it should because the ball of the thigh bone rubs up against the hip socket in an unnatural way, which can be painful.
Unlike osteoarthritis of the hip, the wear and tear condition most likely to affect people age 50 and older, hip impingement typically affects active adolescents and young adults.
Common Causes of Hip Impingement
Hip impingement may be caused by a hip deformity you’re born with. Having a ball (the top of the thigh bone) that’s more oval than perfectly round or a hip socket that’s too deep, can cause the top or the neck of the thigh bone (femur) to bump or impinge on the rim of the hip socket. Over time, the friction can damage the soft cartilage that lines the hip socket.
You can also develop hip impingement over time if you frequently move your legs beyond their normal range of motion. Athletes, such as golfers, baseball, football, tennis, hockey and lacrosse players, for example, may be more develop likely to hip impingement than people who are less physically active.
Hip injury can also lead to hip impingement.
Symptoms of Hip Impingement Syndrome
You may not know you have hip impingement. In its early stages, it may not be painful. When symptoms develop, the condition is known as hip impingement syndrome. Symptoms include:
- Chronic, deep or aching pain on the outside of your hip when sitting, or during or after physical activity
- Occasional sharp pains in your hips during physical activity
- Pain or stiffness in the groin or front of the thigh, especially when bending
Best Treatment for Hip Impingement
When you come into the Orthopedic Institute of New Jersey (OINJ) office, your hip specialist will talk with you about your symptoms, conduct a thorough physical exam and evaluate your hip range of motion. Your OINJ hip doctor may also have you undergo one or more imaging tests, such as an MRI, CT scan X-ray, to look for abnormalities in the hip socket.
If you’re diagnosed with hip impingement syndrome, your OINJ hip doctor may recommend resting your ailing hip, changing your daily activities to avoid moving in a way that causes pain and taking anti-inflammatory medications for pain relief. Exercising can also help strengthen the muscles that support your hip. A stronger hip can be a healthier one.
If your hip pain doesn’t improve with these non-operative measures, your OINJ hip doctor may recommend hip impingement surgery to repair or remove damaged tissue or correct the shape of the hip joint to reduce or eliminate the abnormal contact that’s causing pain.
In some cases, total hip replacement surgery may be necessary. Your OINJ hip surgeon will develop a treatment plan tailored to your condition.
Healing Advice – Hip Impingement Fit Tips
“If you have symptoms of hip impingement syndrome, don’t wait to seek help. Research shows that if left untreated, hip impingement syndrome may contribute to osteoarthritis of the hip, the debilitating condition in which the cartilage supporting the hip joint wears completely away.”
--John M. Dundon, MD, OINJ hip orthopedic surgeon