Hip Impingement

What is Hip Impingement?

The hip is a ball and socket joint with the ball at the top of the thigh bone fitting firmly into the socket of the hip. Hip Impingement occurs when one or both bones of the hip joint have an irregular shape and do not fit together properly. This may cause the bones to rub against each other during movement and over time this restricted motion will damage cartilage and can cause a labral tear, resulting in pain and arthritis in young adults.

What are the signs and symptoms?

Most people with Hip Impingement will experience some of these symptoms:

  • Stiffness in the thigh, hip, or groin
  • The inability to flex the hip beyond a right angle
  • Pain in the groin area, particularly after the hip has been flexed (such as after running, jumping, or sitting for a long time)
  • Pain in the hip, groin, or lower back that can occur at rest as well as during activity

What are the causes?

Hip Impingement is caused in some cases by the ball being too misshapen to fit properly into the socket. Sometimes, the exterior edge of the socket extends to the point that it covers too much of the ball. Hip Impingement can also be caused by a combination of these two problems.

How is it diagnosed?

Diagnosis begins with a complete medical history and a physical examination. During the physical exam, the range of motion of the hip joint and presence of impingement will be assessed. Further tests may be required to confirm diagnosis such as X-ray, MRI, or CT scans.

How is it treated?

Some patients are able to successfully manage Hip Impingement with conservative therapies such as reducing certain types of physical activity, physiotherapy, pain management, and injections. However, in some cases, surgical intervention is recommended. Arthroscopic surgery is more common and can correct most impingemens. Severe or complicated impingement deformities are best managed as open surgery in order to insure full correction.

How can it be prevented?

The risk of developing Hip Impingement can be reduced and/or prevented by monitoring exercise intensity and frequency (especially during childhood and adolescence), through assessment and treatment from a physiotherapist to address areas of weakness, tightness and instability, the correct rehabilitation of previous injuries, and pre-season screening for athletes.