The labrum is a cartilage lining in the hip joint that facilitates the hip's wide range of motion. Labral tears are common among athletes who play hockey, soccer, and football, as well as dancers. Learn symptoms, diagnosis, and treatments for a hip labral tear.

Video Transcript

When hip pain is coming from within the joint, the most common cause of that type of pain comes from a labral tear.

And the labrum is the cartilage lining of that socket joint, the socket of the ball-and-socket joint of the hip joint, and that can tear in different areas.

Typically, patients will present with pain in the groin. They can feel locking, or a catching, or a giving way, and sense of decreased strength on that side. The pain can be sharp, it can, or it can feel like a catching sensation.

Labral tears can occur in the younger population, including athletes, gymnasts, and dancers. However, it can also occur in an older population where the type of tear is more degenerative.

In diagnosing the labral tear, normally, the MRI will show where exactly in the labrum is the tear located. In addition to doing the MRI, an arthrogram is helpful, because when you inject a small amount of lidocaine, if it relieves some of the patient’s symptoms, then this clues us in that the problem is actually coming from within the hip joint itself.

The labral tear can be treated with an intra-articular injection, ideally, of steroid and lidocaine. In addition to injections into the hip, oral anti-inflammatories can also be helpful. These can either be prescribed or over-the-counter. Ideally, the injection will be, in addition to physical therapy, will be sufficient to help the person get to complete pain relief. In recalcitrant cases, when the physical therapy and injections have not been sufficiently helpful, then a surgical evaluation is recommended. But ideally, the physical therapy and the injection will be sufficient.

The cartilage on its own won’t, doesn’t heal; it is not innervated. But the physical therapy will help to reduce the stress and pressure that is on the joint and reduce the stresses that most likely brought on the labral tear to begin with. Also, the anti-inflammatory medications just help with the inflammation in the fluid surrounding the injury; they do not do anything to the tear itself.

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