Doctors recommend labral tear surgery to patients who they think are good candidates—these patient are not at high risk for surgical complications and are likely to have good postsurgical results. For other patients, a hip replacement or other hip surgery may be considered.
Read about the Total Hip Replacement Surgical Procedure on Arthritis-health.com
This page describes what factors a surgeon considers when making a recommendation. Post-surgical recovery is also described. Ultimately, it is up to the patient to make an informed choice about which surgery, if any, to undergo.
When Is Hip Labral Repair Surgery Not Recommended?
A surgeon may advise against hip labral repair surgery or may caution a patient about his or her increased risk for poor post-surgical outcomes. This may happen if the patient has:
- A severely damaged labrum. In some cases, the labrum is so damaged that it is difficult or impossible to repair. In these cases, a hip labrum reconstruction (described below) or debridement will be recommended.
- Advanced arthritis. Any hip surgery other than a hip replacement is typically not recommended if the patient has advanced arthritis.1
See What Is Hip Osteoarthritis? on Arthritis-health.com
- Advanced age. Studies suggest that when older people undergo hip surgery to repair a torn labrum the likelihood of needing a hip replacement increases. In these cases, a labral tear repair should be approached with caution,2 and hip replacement may be considered.
- An asymptomatic labral tear. Sometimes a labral tear is discovered during an MRI or other medical imaging, but the patient does not have symptoms. Surgery is typically not recommended in cases.
- Other medical conditions. A person with certain health conditions may not be a good candidate for elective surgery, including labral repair surgery. These conditions include but are not limited to:
- Obesity. There are no set weight restrictions for hip labral surgery (arthroscopic and open), however, weight may play a role in recovery and outcomes, including needing another procedure.3
- Infection. A pre-existing infection will delay surgery.
- Smoking/nicotine use. Smokers and nicotine users heal more slowly than other people. A delay in healing can increase the risk of complications, including infection.
Decisions about whether to have surgery are made between doctor and patient on a case-by-case basis.
Labral Tear Reconstruction
Labral reconstruction uses a graft—tissue from another part of the body or from a donor—to completely replace the torn labrum. This procedure is done when the labrum is too damaged to repair, but the hip joint is otherwise healthy.
The type of surgery recommended will depend upon the severity of the injury or condition and other underlying conditions that need to be addressed.
People considering hip labrum repair should think about how they will cope with post-surgical recovery.
Recovery typically requires:
- Taking pain medication for 1 to 3 days
- Using crutches (in some cases a walker may be needed initially)
- Dedicating time to physical therapy
Recovery times differ significantly depending on whether the person underwent arthroscopic or open hip surgery. For example, people who have arthroscopic hip surgery typically need to use crutches for 2 to 4 weeks. People who have open surgery may need to use crutches for about 6 weeks.
People with sedentary jobs typically return to work 1 to 2 weeks after arthroscopic hip labrum surgery. Prolonged sitting is not recommended, so these people will be encouraged to stretch and move intermittently throughout the day.
People with labor-intensive jobs, such as those that require heavy lifting or standing for long periods of time, may need to wait up to 6 months after arthroscopic hip surgery before returning to work.
Generally a person who has undergone arthroscopic hip surgery can return to moderate activity, such as jogging, after 3 months, although some people may be required to wait longer. For high hip intensity sports, such as ballet, football, rowing, and lacrosse, a 5 to 6-month timeframe for recovery is typical following hip arthroscopy. This time frame is dependent on many factors, such as the type of surgery performed, the person’s fitness level, and the sport itself.