Labrum Tears

Labral tears are rare ruptures anywhere in the fibrocartilage around the rim of pelvis socket (acetabulum).

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Symptoms

The damage to the cartilage inside the socket of the hip joint makes your thighbone less stable inside the joint. The damage can also allow the fluid that keeps the cartilage smooth to more easily escape from the joint. This can cause friction in your hip. 

Labral tears more commonly occur in the front and top portions of the labrum.

Causes and Risk Factors

Acetabular labral tears often occur with other injuries or conditions in the hip. For example, hip fractures can tear your labrum. Most patients with osteoarthritic hips also have labral tears. Patients with acetabular dysplasia (an abnormality during development that results in a misshapen hip socket) often develop labral tears and osteoarthritis of the hip.

Contact sports increase your chances of re-injuring your hip. Sports that require you to bend forward, like skiing, cycling or horseback riding also may put you at risk of re-injuring your acetabular labrum. If you are going to engage in physical activity, particularly sports that involve running, jumping and twisting be sure to stretch the muscles in your hips and lower back well first.

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Diagnosis

Your doctor generally will take a careful medical history, including asking about your activities and any recent injuries. He or she will then do a physical examination. After this, if there are unanswered questions, your doctor may order an arthrogram or a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan.

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Treatments

How a labral tear is treated depends on how serious it is and whether or not other injuries, such as hip dislocations and fractures occurred with the tear.

In cases that are not severe enough to need surgery, treatment may include:

  • Changing your daily activities to prevent injuring your joint again
  • Checking to see if one leg is longer than the other. This can change the way you walk and put stress on your labrum. If you have this condition, it may be corrected using orthotics, specially designed pads worn inside your shoe. The design helps keep your feet in proper alignment when you walk.
  • Checking your walking and running gaits for any abnormalities that could stress your lower back and hips. A physical therapist can help you correct any problems.
  • Improving your posture. Improper posture when sitting, walking or running can put pressure on your labrum. If you sit for long periods, have an expert check your posture.
  • Making sure to shift positions and take regular breaks to get up and walk, if you do a lot of sitting. If you have pain in your hip when sitting for long periods of time, try to avoid that.

If nonsurgical approaches don't relieve the pain, your doctor may recommend surgery. This is usually done for patients who have a great deal of pain and difficulty moving their hips. Surgical approaches include:

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