Hip impingement, medically known as femoroacetabular impingement (FAI), is a condition characterised by the growth of excess bone along the hip joint, causing an abnormal shape. This altered structure leads to improper alignment of the hip bones, resulting in friction between them during movements. Over time, this rubbing wears down the joint, leading to pain and restricted mobility.
The hip joint is of a ball-and-socket type, comprising the femoral head (referred to as the “ball”) and the acetabulum (known as the “socket”), both enveloped by articular cartilage. Hip impingement can arise due to an abnormally shaped femoral head, a misshapen femoral neck, or a hip socket that overly covers the femoral head.
If left untreated, the repeated impact between the femur and the acetabulum can damage both the cartilage and the soft tissue surrounding the hip joint, known as the labrum. This condition often results from excess bone in the hip, though bone deformities can also contribute.
In children, hip impingement can stem from incomplete hip bone development during youth, leading to bone spurs that cause joint damage and pain. These children might be born with abnormal hip shapes due to factors like injury or congenital deformities.
If tests reveal joint damage caused by impingement and non-surgical options haven’t been able to relieve your pain, your GP may suggest surgery. It’s important to note that surgical options may vary depending on the specific type of FAI and the individual patient’s condition. While hip arthroscopy, as detailed below, is a common technique used in surgery to treat hip impingement, there are other surgical procedures available for FAI. Open surgery, for example, is one such alternative.
Hip arthroscopy is a revolutionary minimally invasive surgical procedure that allows doctors to diagnose and treat hip issues with precision. Using a microscopic camera called an arthroscope, surgeons can swiftly diagnose and treat issues around the hip joint without resorting to major surgery. This technique results in a faster recovery that is less painful due to its smaller incision size. This translates to a quicker return to regular activities, accompanied by improved mobility.
Surgical correction can alleviate impingement symptoms and prevent future damage to the hip joint. However, some issues may not be fully repairable through surgery, especially if treatment was delayed or if the injury is severe. While additional problems might arise in the future, hip arthroscopy remains a top choice for addressing painful femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) and providing relief.
To learn more about hip arthroscopy, as well as what you can expect prior to, during, and after surgery, please visit our Hip Arthroscopy page.