The hip joint is a ball-and-socket joint formed by the ball-shaped end of the thigh bone and the hip socket. Under normal conditions, the ‘ball’ moves smoothly within the socket, allowing a wide range of motion. Sometimes the smooth movement of the hip is prevented by a condition known as hip impingement. Some causes of hip impingement are:
Deformity of the ball (cam impingement): An abnormally shaped ball at the upper end of the thigh bone can cause bumping and grinding between the ball and the hip socket. This prevents smooth hip movement and can cause pain or a restricted range of motion in the hip.
Deformity of the socket (pincer impingement): There can be over-coverage of the ball of the thigh bone by the rim of the hip socket. Like with cam impingement, this can cause pain, catching and grinding, and restriction of motion in the hip.
Deformity of both the ball and the socket of the hip joint is known as combined impingement. Hip impingement can cause pinching or entrapment of the labrum, which can cause a labral tear; hip impingement also increases the likelihood of hip osteoarthritis developing in the future.
Athletes and active individuals are at a higher risk for developing hip impingement because of the demand placed on their hips during sports and other types of activities that involve repetitive hip movements. Groin pain and limited hip mobility that are exacerbated by weight-bearing activities are common signs of hip impingement. If left untreated, impingement can cause hip pain when sitting for prolonged periods of time or even when lying down to sleep at night.
In the early stages of hip impingement, nonsurgical treatment such as physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medication, and activity modification may be beneficial for relief of symptoms, but these treatments do not correct the underlying problem.
In cases where localized bony abnormalities are determined to be the cause of hip impingement, hip arthroscopy can be performed to shave off the excess bone and smooth the joint surfaces, allowing athletes and active individuals to return to the activities they enjoy with minimal delay.
For an in-depth evaluation of your hip condition and a personalized treatment recommendation, book an appointment with The American Hip Institute.
Dr. Benjamin Domb is an orthopaedic surgeon specializing in Sports Medicine and Hip Arthroscopy. He is the Founder and Medical Director at American Hip Institute and is rated amongst the Top Doctors in the USA by the NY Times, US News & World Report, and Castle Connelly. The doctors at the American Hip Institute have been global leaders in Hip Arthroscopy and Robotic Surgery for over a decade. While some would call this excellence, we simply call it the American Hip Institute standard.