The labrum is specialized cartilage that forms a ring around the lip of the hip socket. (The name "labrum" is actually derived from the Latin word for "lip.") The purpose of the labrum is to help increase the stability of the hip joint. It also acts as a seal around the hip socket. Injury to this area can result in pain, inflammation, and stiffness within the joint, severely hampering athletic performance or even the ability to walk, sit, or stand comfortably. We offer solutions for treating hip labrum tears in Glastonbury, CT at Valley Sports Physicians & Orthopedic Medicine.
Athletes who participate in such sports as ice hockey, soccer, football, golf, figure skating, and ballet are at higher risk of developing a hip labral tear--sports or activities that place a significant amount of stress and torsion on the hip joint. Structural abnormalities of the hip, especially "cam lesions," also can lead to a hip labral tear. In addition, as we age the labrum can gradually thin out, and even seemingly incidental movements can cause a tear.
Many hip labral tears cause no signs or symptoms, especially as we get older. When symptoms DO occur, the following are the most common:
While the patient history and physical exam can raise the suspicion of a labral tear, an MRI is required to confirm the presence of a tear. You cannot see labral tears on x-rays. (X-rays only show bones, not cartilage, tendons, ligaments, or muscles.) The ideal imaging study is an MRI Arthrogram. Before the MRI is performed the radiologist first injects a special dye into the joint (the arthrogram). The dye significantly increases the ability of the MRI to detect labral tears, especially smaller ones.
The first step is to determine if the labral tear is even causing your symptoms. In our office, we perform a simple and safe diagnostic injection into the hip joint under ultrasound guidance using some Novocain. If your symptoms go away temporarily then there's a good chance that the labral tear is causing your symptoms (assuming that there aren't other additional potential reasons for your pain such as arthritis!). Symptomatic labral tears often require surgical treatment. But as we age surgery is much less often indicated or helpful for symptomatic labral tears, especially if the tear is due to degeneration or wear and tear over time.