In order to stabilize the hip, the labrum, which is a thick fibrocartilaginous tissue that lines the outside of the hip socket, creates a seal of rubber-like material to hold the head of the femur (the ball) in place. It also helps to deepen the hip socket. The labrum ensures that the head of the femur can glide securely and freely within the hip socket, increasing ease of movement.
Labral tears of the hip often occur as a result of physical activity or sports that involve repetitive motions and unexpected twisting or pivoting such as football, hockey, golf and softball. Traumatic events, such as automobile accidents, may injure or dislocate the hip joint, resulting in tearing of the labrum. Labral tears can happen because of osteoarthritis of the hip, further increasing the degeneration of the joint. Genetics can also lead to labral tears. People born with structural abnormalities and those with preexisting hip problems can accelerate the wearing and tearing of the joint, resulting in the labral tearing.
When symptoms of hip labral tears are present, there is often stiffness, limited range of motion, pain in the hip or groin area, and a locking, clicking or catching sensation in the joint during movement. Labral tears of the hip are diagnosed through a physical exam. During the physical exam, the leg and hip will be moved around to check for pain and gauge the hip’s range of motion. Imaging devices, such as an X-ray or MRI, may be used to check for other injuries, including fractures that the hip may have sustained. Treatment options for a torn labrum include activity modification, physical therapy, corticosteroid injections, anti-inflammatory medications, and arthroscopic surgery.