The labrum is a structure that stretches almost completely around the hip joint socket and relies on the socket by 20% to 25%. It helps create a suction seal between the hip’s ball and socket, like a washer or gasket. A tear in the hip labrum occurs when the labrum pulls away from the bone attachment and disrupts that connection where joint cartilage meets.

Hip labral tears can be complete detachments or tears of the fibers within the labrum. Tears in the hip labrum are very common and are a frequently encountered source of pain in the hip joint.

What causes hip labral tears?

Tears in the hip labrum can occur for many reasons. Some of the more common causes are:

The labrum doesn’t get torn in half in this injury, but rather it is typically pulled away from the bone attachment or can be pinched/crushed for what’s called an intrasubstance tearing.

What are the symptoms of a hip labral tear?

The symptoms of a hip labral tear includes:

  • Deep pain in the front part of the hip and down into the groin area
  • Pain that radiates toward the deep buttock area
  • Catching, grinding and other mechanical-type pain with certain movements
  • Pain that worsens with certain activities, such as walking, twisting and getting in and out of a car

How are hip labral tears diagnosed?

Diagnosing hip labral tears begins with Ohio State Sports Medicine experts gathering a detailed medical history and physical examination. We’ll see what types of activities and motions seem to provoke more pain.

X-rays are typically part of the initial evaluation to help solidify diagnosis and rule out other significant problems. Ultrasound-guided injections are used for diagnostic purposes when the pain source isn’t clear enough to confirm diagnosis. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is used to look at cartilage, labrum and soft tissues in the hip to corroborate evidence gathered from medical history, physical exams, X-rays and possible injections.

How are hip labral tears treated?

Many people who have hip labral tears don’t need surgery to relieve pain, improve motion, improve hip function and regain the functions of work, play and daily life. Nonsurgical treatment includes rest, anti-inflammatory medication and physical therapy (at home and/or formally led by a physical therapist). Cortisone injections are sometimes used for additional pain relief.

If nonsurgical options fail, surgeons at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center can perform minimally invasive arthroscopic repair using a camera and small incisions.

Why choose Ohio State for hip labral tear treatment?

The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center specializes in the most advanced treatment options for hip dysplasia.

The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center’s integrated hip team includes surgeons, sport medicine physicians, physical therapists, clinic staff, administrative staff and a research team who specialize in these types of injuries and treatments. Orthopedic experts at the medical center lead medical research to improve hip treatment and determine more specific causes for injuries.

Patients at the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center also have the unique opportunity to receive new, novel treatments, such as orthobiologic treatments like platelet-rich plasma, and to participate in clinical trials of newly developed therapies.

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