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Hip Labral Tear and Treatment

The hip socket has a cartilage ring on the rim. The ring, called the labrum, is there for several reasons, like acting as a cushion in the joint and securing the ball of the thigh bone in place. During physical activities, the labrum distributes the pressure around the pelvis and reduces the stress on the joint.

Causes of Hip Labral Tear

However, the labrum can get injured during physical activities due to repeated unusual twisting, falling or some other traumatic experience. Sometimes, the labrum may not be structured properly and the head of the femur wouldn’t fit perfectly in the socket, leading to a labral tear.

The injury was explained to us by Dr Vijay Kumar Sohanlal – a highly experienced orthopaedic surgeon and a senior specialist in joint replacement and orthopaedics at MGM healthcare and Mahi Clinic – Chennai.

Symptoms of Hip Labral Tear

Dr Vijay mentioned that labral tear patients may experience pain in the hip or near the groin. Patients may also have a feeling of instability or a clicking sensation. The condition may subsequently affect the health of the joint cartilage. There is also a risk of developing osteoarthritis in the long run.

In many cases, however, there are no symptoms, and the labral tear is diagnosed incidentally.

Diagnosis

A physical examination by moving the leg or walking reveals how normal the patient feels during the activity. Any difficulty felt by the patient helps the doctor understand the underlying cause.

The doctor may further recommend an X-ray or MRI to further understand the condition of soft tissues and bones in the area. In a small percentage of cases, the labral tears are not detectable in the MRI and the doctor’s judgement must be considered.

Treatment

Although labral tear is not life-threatening, proper treatment of the injury is important because labral tear doesn’t heal on its own. The doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medicine and steroid injections to reduce the symptoms of the condition.

Physical therapy involving stretching exercises is also beneficial in strengthening the hip muscles. Strengthening the muscles reduces the stress on the labrum and improves stability in the hip and mobility.    

When none of the above treatments is helpful, surgery may be required to repair the labrum or shave it to a healthy level. For this purpose, arthroscopy is a tried and tested procedure involving the insertion of a small camera in the joint through a small incision. The damaged area is repaired surgically. Usually, it’s an outpatient surgery and the patient may be discharged the same day.  

Another surgical procedure that may treat the condition is periacetabular osteotomy. The hip socket is surgically removed from the pelvis and then repositioned. This improves the fitting of the femoral head and helps in restoring the mobility of the hip. Further problems may be avoided with this procedure improving hip joint longevity. Timely treatment may avoid the need for total hip replacement. Arthroplasty or hip replacement may be the last resort to restore the functioning of the hip joint. Medically safe, artificial parts are used to replace the ball and socket of the joint.

The complete recovery depends on the treatment and may take several months to return to normal activities. It’s important to strengthen the muscles around the area through exercises recommended by the physical therapist.

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