Hip labral tear

The labrum is a fibrocartilage ring that surrounds your hip joint and provides stability to it. The labrum serves as rubber seal and deepens your hip socket. It also protects your joint by reducing the stress transmitted to the joint.

A hip labral tear is damage to the labrum that can be due to sudden injury or gradually over a period of time. Damage to the cartilage can become severe since the cartilage cells cannot repair themselves and causes delayed healing. The tear of the hip labrum may reduce the joint stability and cause orthopedic complications later in life. It is estimated that nearly 22 percent of athletes who reports about pain in the groin have a labral tear in hip.


You may experience the following symptoms:

  • Sharp catching pain of the hip
  • Sensation of locking of the hip
  • Stiffness of the hip joint
  • Limited range of motion
  • Pain in front of your groin
  • Pain that worsens with standing or walking

Risk factors

Individuals who perform sports or physical activities that require repeated twisting or pivoting motions and individuals with previous hip problems are at increased risk for the hip labral tear.


Your doctor diagnoses the condition with a thorough physical examination that involves assessing the range of motion of your hip. Your doctor might order any of the following tests.

Imaging scans: Your doctor recommends an X-ray of the hip to visualize the bone. It helps to identify any fracture or structural abnormalities. Your doctor might order a magnetic resonance imaging for detailed images of your hip’s soft tissues. Sometimes, a contrast material is injected into your hip joint to find out the exact location of the labral tear.

Following are the causes of a tear in the hip labrum:

  • Trauma: An injury to the hip joint, during car accidents or while playing contact sports such as football or hockey, may lead to tearing of the labrum. Contact sports may require sudden twisting of the hip and increases the susceptibility to hip labral tears.

  • Structural causes: Some individuals with structural abnormalities such as CAM or Pincer morphology are more likely to be affected by the hip labral tear.

Your doctor might recommend the treatment based on the severity of symptoms. The treatment may range from simple conservative therapy to arthroscopic surgery for repairing the labral tear.

  • Physical therapy: Your doctor might refer you to a physical therapist. The physical therapist helps you to stretch your tissues so as to increase the range of motion of your joint. Physical therapy also includes the activities that strengthen your bones. Once the pain, motion, and strength improve, your physical therapist may provide you functional training. Functional training involves teaching exercises that help your body to perform daily activities.

  • Medications: Your doctor might prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen. If the pain is severe, corticosteroids are injected into the joint to reduce the inflammation for about six months.

  • Surgical management: If medication or other conservative therapies do not reduce your symptoms, your doctor might suggest an arthroscopic surgery. During the procedure, a fiber-optic camera is inserted by making an incision in your skin. Then, depending on the extent of the tear, your doctor removes the torn piece of labral cartilage or repairs it by sewing it back. After the surgery, the recovery may take about six to 12 weeks. You will be able to move your joint freely after the surgery. However, physical therapy is still essential for healing, good range of motion, and strengthening your muscles.