Hip Labral Tears

A hip labral tear is an injury to the soft elastic tissue around the hip joint called the labrum. The hip joint is made of a ball and socket. The ball is the end of the thigh bone, also called the femur. This ball fits into the bowl-shaped socket in the pelvic bone, also called the acetabulum. Cartilage lines the socket to keep movement smooth and the joint cushioned. The labrum helps to hold the ball of your femur in place. When the this tears, it is called a hip labral tear. If you suspect you have this condition, contact your doctor right away.

  • Causes

    Hip labral tears can result from wear and tear or from an injury.


    • Definition

      A hip labral tear is an injury to the soft elastic tissue around the hip joint called the labrum. The hip joint is made of a ball and socket. The ball is the end of the thigh bone, also called the femur. This ball fits into the bowl-shaped socket in the pelvic bone, also called the acetabulum. Cartilage lines the socket to keep movement smooth and the joint cushioned. The labrum helps to hold the ball of your femur in place. When the this tears, it is called a hip labral tear.

      Hip Joint and Cartilage
      Hip cartilage
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      If you suspect you have this condition, contact your doctor right away.

    • Diagnosis

      Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. You will likely be referred to a specialist. An orthopedic surgeon focuses on bones and joints.

      Images may need to be taken of your hip. This can be done with:

      • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) arthrography
      • X-rays

      An anesthetic may be injected to help diagnose this condition. If the pain gets better with the injection, the problem is in the joint which could be a labral tear.

    • Prevention

      There are no known guidelines to prevent a hip labral tear.

    • Risk Factors

      Factors that can increase your chances of getting a hip labral tear include:

      • Wear and tear of hip joint from different activities, such as golf or softball
      • Traumatic injury to hip
      • Twisting injuries
      • Motor vehicle accident
      • Degenerative diseases like osteoarthritis
      • Femoroacetabular impingement syndrome (FAI)
      • Legg-Calve-Perthes disease
      • Hip dysplasia
      • Osteoarthritis
      • Slipped capital epiphysis
      • Capsular laxity/hip hypermobility

    • Symptoms

      Symptoms vary and can be mild, including:

      • Hip pain: sharp, deep, disabling
      • Locking or clicking of hip
      • Hip instability
      • Limited range of motion
      • Tenderness to touch
      • Groin, buttock, or thigh pain
      • Pain during activity

    • Treatment

      Talk with your doctor about the best plan for you. Treatment options include the following:

      Common medical treatment may include:

      • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
      • Steroid injection to the joint
      • Modified activity
      • Physical therapy to strengthen muscles

      Generally, this treatment is tried for several weeks. If there is no improvement, then surgery is considered.  Arthroscopy uses a thin, lighted tube inserted through a small incision to view the injury and fix it. Small instruments are threaded through this tube. The torn labrum may be removed or sewn together.