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Labral Tear

A hip labral tear is an injury to the labrum. The labrum is the soft tissue that blankets the acetabulum, which is the part of the hip where the head of the femur connects with the socket of the pelvis.

The hip joint is most similar to the shoulder in that it is a ball-and-socket type of joint. The hip joint is formed where the end of the femur meets the socket of the pelvis, known as the acetabulum. Many large muscles, tendons, and ligaments hold the bones of the hip joint in place and keep the joint from dislocating. The hip joint is one of the largest joints in the body and bears more weight than any other joint.

The labrum, as previously stated, is the thin soft tissue that blankets the acetabulum. A labrum is found in both the shoulder and hip joints and forms a ring around the edge of the sockets of the joints. The labrum provides stability to the joint by deepening the socket. This allows for flexibility, motion, and dexterity.

A labral tear involves the ring of cartilage (labrum) that lines the acetabulum becoming worn, ruptured, or torn as a result of repeated activity or a short strenuous motion. Labral tears can occur in any of the ball-and-socket joints of the body, as the labrum is found in the hip or shoulder. There are two types of labral tears: traumatic tears and degenerative tears.

Traumatic tears and degenerative tears are two types of labral tears that each arise from different causes. A traumatic tear occurs as a result of a sports injury, fall, or accident. Traumatic tears are often a result of sudden twisting maneuvers that would cause immediate pain in the hip. This type of tear usually happens when there is monumental trauma and force applied to the labrum in one blow.

A degenerative tear is a result of repetitive use and activity that may occur in athletes as well as the elderly. These types of tears are chronic, meaning that the affected area has been overused.

Another, less likely, type of labral tear occurs when there is a structural abnormality in the development of the hip joint. Some individuals are born with hip problems that accelerate the wear and tear of the hip joint which eventually causes a labral tear.

Symptoms of a labral tear are very similar to the symptoms of a groin strain. However, many hip labral tears do not show signs or symptoms. Symptoms experienced by some as a result of a hip labral tear include:

  • Groin pain
  • Clicking sensations in the hip
  • Snapping sensations in the hip
  • Reduced range of motion
  • Stiffness in the hip joint
  • Hip pain
  • Pain worsening due to prolonged periods of standing or sitting

During the physical exam, the physician will test the range of motion of the affected area and move it in a variety of ways to check for levels of pain and discomfort. The physician may also ask that the patient walk for them so they can determine whether or not there are any abnormalities in the motion of walking.

Imaging scans are also done to rule out possibilities other than a labral tear. Imaging scans will give the doctor a better and detailed understanding of the location and severity of the injury. XRays and MRIs are most commonly used to diagnose a labral tear.

On occasion, the doctor may recommend a diagnostic anesthesia injection. These injections are made into affected areas that are painful to the patient. The doctor will inject the anesthetic into the affected area and, if this lessens the pain, it can be determined that the spot the anesthesia was injected is the source of the issue.

Treatment is always dependent on the severity of one’s symptoms. Whereas some recover from labral tears with conservative treatments in just a few weeks, others require arthroscopic surgery to either remove or repair the torn portion of the labrum.


Medications commonly used regarding hip labral tears are meant to reduce pain and inflammation. Common medications for labral tears include:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (Ibuprofen)
  • Naproxen Sodium (Aleve)
  • Corticosteroid injections

Physical Therapy

The goal of physical therapy is to maximize the range of motion in the hip and increase strength. Physical therapists often recommend and teach exercises that strengthen core and hip strength and increase stability. Physical therapists will also teach the patient to avoid movements that put stress on the hip joint.

Arthroscopic Surgery

A doctor may recommend arthroscopic surgery. During this procedure, a fiber-optic camera and surgical tools are inserted into the body through small incisions in the skin at the affected area. Not much is known about arthroscopic surgery as it is still a relatively new procedure, which does include some side effects like infection, bleeding, nerve injury, and recurrent symptoms if the area does not heal properly.

Schedule a consultation

If you or a loved one are currently experiencing any of the effects or symptoms of a hip labral tear, contact the Center for Orthopaedic Specialists today. The Center for Orthopaedic Specialists have been providing adequate diagnosis and treatment plans to the residents of Los Angeles for many years. Contact us today!

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