The hip joint is a ball-and-socket joint made up of the acetabulum (the socket), and the femoral head (the ball). Within the hip joint, there is a ring of cartilage that follows the outside rim of the acetabulum. This is known as the labrum and acts like a rubber seal to hold the ball of the thighbone in position and allow it to move smoothly. A tear to the labrum is known as a labral tear and is often caused by sporting injuries.
While a labral tear is commonly caused by injuries during sports such as hockey, soccer, football, golf and ballet, structural abnormalities of the hip can also cause a tear in the labrum. Femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) and osteoarthritis are also common causes.
Those with a labral tear in the hip will typically experience pain during exercise or when bending, moving or rotating the hip. While many with a hip labral tear experience no symptoms, symptoms may include:
- Catching or locking of the hip
- A clicking sound when moving
- Sharp pain in the hip, buttocks or groin area
- Stiffness in the hip joint
Treatment for a labral tear of the hip will depend on the severity of the symptoms. For some conservative treatment options such as anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy and pain management may be all that is needed. For others, arthroscopic surgery may be needed to repair or remove the torn portion of the labrum. This is a minimally invasive surgery in which thin tube-like instrument fitted with a camera at the end is inserted through small incisions to allow Dr Pienaar to visualise the joint, and perform surgery. From there, the pieces of the torn labrum can the be removed (this is known as debridement) or repaired with sutures.