Most people who have hip labral tears notice symptoms at the front of the hip or in the groin area. The symptoms can appear gradually, over months or years, or suddenly.

  • The gradual onset of symptoms is commonly seen in people who regularly play sports that involve running, kicking, or turning. Examples of such sports are soccer, ballet, and golf.
  • The sudden onset of symptoms may be triggered by an acute trauma, such as a football collision.

See What Is the Hip Labrum?

Hip labral tear symptoms, which can vary according to tear location and severity, are described in detail below.

Hip Pain, Locking, and Instability

Primary symptoms of a hip labral tear may include:

  • Hip pain. The pain is often described as a constant, deep, dull ache when at rest and occasional, sharp, stinging pain that gets worse during activities, such as turning, walking, and running. 1 Groh MM, Herrera J. A comprehensive review of hip labral tears. Curr Rev Musculoskelet Med. 2009;2(2):105-17. When asked to locate the pain, patients often make a “C” shape by cupping their hand around the side of the hip. Pain can be experienced in the buttocks and thigh, as well as through the knee.
  • Hip clicking, locking, or catching. It may feel like the rounded top of the thighbone (the femoral head) is caught within its socket during movement. The hip joint’s overall range of motion may decrease.
  • Hip instability. The hip and leg may feel like they are about to give way, especially when walking, running, or standing for long periods of time.

Day-to-Day Limitations Due to Hip Labral Tears

People who have hip labral tears may experience discomfort and pain that interferes with everyday activities. A labral tear may result in:

  • Trouble participating in sports. Golf, ballet, soccer, and running are examples of sports that can cause the pain to intensify.
  • Needing a railing to climb the stairs. Weakening of the hips can lead to joint instability and trouble going up stairs.
  • Difficulty walking for long periods of time. Hip instability and pain may make walking long distances difficult.
  • Pain after sitting for 30 minutes or more. Sitting in a car or at a desk for an extended period of time can cause pain.
  • Discomfort while standing. Standing for long periods may be difficult and uncomfortable. A person may feel as if the hip is giving way, although falling is unlikely.
  • Limping. In many cases, the hip pain will be severe enough to cause a limp while walking.

Symptoms can vary from person to person. In addition, an individual’s symptoms may vary or worsen over time.

  • 1 Groh MM, Herrera J. A comprehensive review of hip labral tears. Curr Rev Musculoskelet Med. 2009;2(2):105-17.

Dr. D. Andrew Parker is an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine and hip, knee, and shoulder surgery. Dr. Parker has given numerous presentations and seminars at conferences around the country. He previously served as a team physician for the NFL's Washington Redskins and the MLS's DC United.