FAI is a condition affecting the hip, a ball and socket joint, (the femur/thigh bone and the acetabulum/hip socket). Wikipedia tells us that it is a “condition involving one or more anatomical abnormalities of the hip joint”. I respectfully disagree. I say this because ANYONE can put themselves into a position that causes the hip to impinge (pinch), some are just predisposed to that pinching because of anatomical variances. The cause can be any of number of things and may be multifactorial.
The diagnosis for hip impingement tends to be made in the young adult population. These patients report pain in the front of the hip/groin but may also experience one or more of the following symptoms; low back pain, pain in the lateral hip/glute, pain down the leg, or pain in the buttock. Often they have been told they have “tight hip flexors”, a “groin strain”, or have maybe even been worked up for a suspected hernia.
With hip impingement, symptoms and damage come from putting yourself into a position that is outside of your anatomic limits. Damage can occur to the articular cartilage (tissue that covers the bones in the joint) or labral cartilage (tissue around the socket). If a person is able to live within a range in which he/she does not impinge, the symptoms will decrease and hopefully no further damage will be caused to the hips. However, if the person continues to put him or herself into positions that cause impingement, we see more wear and tear on the joint and they may very well likely go on to develop osteoarthritis within the hip. Operations can be done to change the anatomy and better accommodate a larger range of motion, but surgery is not an option for everyone, and certainly non-operative management with physiotherapy is the initial treatment of choice.
Perhaps this sounds like something you have been dealing with? Give us a call, let’s see what you’re dealing with.
~ Lindsay, PT