WHAT IS IT? HIP IMPINGEMENT

Hip impingement is medically referred to as Femoroacetabular Impingement (FAI).  The femoral head is the top portion of the thigh bone.  The acetabulum is the socket which the femoral head fits into.  Impingement can occur when the femoral head is not quite round, or if the socket covers too much of the femoral heads; this results in pinching.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Groin pain on hip flexion

  • Pain on standing up after prolonged sitting

  • Limp on walking

  • Reduced hip range of movement

What Causes It?

  • A femoral head which is not round and therefore does not fit the socket perfectly

  • A socket which covers too much of the femoral head, therefore hinders range of movement

How to Self Manage

  • An x-ray or scan is needed for diagnosis confirmation

  • Anti-inflammatory medication (if not contraindicated) may be useful for pain relief

  • An exercise program should be commenced to ensure mobility and strength are optimal.

Prognosis

  • An x-ray will confirm the diagnosis.  MRI or CT scans can highlight other pathologies of the hip such as cysts or cartilage damage.

  • Conservative management may keep hip pain at bay.

  • Surgical advice should be sought from a specialist to discuss long term management.  Options may include arthroscopic investigation, osteotomy, where bone is reshaped, or in the event of severe degeneration a partial or total hip replacement.

How Physio Helps

  • Assess the hip for signs of impingement or other pathology

  • Exclude other structures (lumbar spine, SIJ) as the source of pain

  • Assess for biomechanical abnormalities or muscle imbalances

  • Prescribe exercises to maintain mobility and strength

  • Pilates to increase core stability to reduce load on the hips

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