“Hip impingement, also known as femoroacetabular impingement (FAI), is a condition that occurs when there is a structural change of either bone components of the hip joint, the head of the femur (ball) or the acetabulum (socket), causing them to pinch against each other.

Over a prolonged period of time, other hip structures such as the labrum or the cartilage of the joint might get damaged causing pain, stiffness and inflammation.

The structural change that causes the friction to increase can be present from birth (congenital) or be brought on by wear and tear in individuals who perform sports or work-related activities involving repetitive twisting and loading of the hip joint.

In either scenario, the main symptom reported by patients is groin pain and stiffness, especially when bending the hip up towards the body or performing day-to-day tasks such as riding a bike, doing shoe laces up or wearing socks.

Hip Impingement

How is FAI diagnosed?

A physical examination carried out by a physiotherapist or an osteopath can help diagnose FAI.

Your practitioner will perform clinical testing that will help rule out other causes of hip pain and potentially refer you for X-rays to confirm the diagnosis of FAI by looking for the bone structural alteration in your hip joint.

What are the options for treatment?

Conservative non-surgical treatment such as physiotherapy and osteopathy is usually the first line of action for the management of FAI.

Such treatments might include:

– manual techniques of mobilisation and traction of the hip and surrounding joints
– soft tissue and myofascial release of the muscles attaching to the hip joint
dry needling acupuncture
– strength and balance exercise prescription to improve hip stability and muscle strength
– advice and education

Following the correct exercise routine is crucial for the strengthening of the muscles and tendons that attach to the hip joint as well as receiving hands-on treatment for the management of the pain in the acute phase following the diagnosis of FAI.

When conservative treatment isn’t successful it might mean that the structural damage within the joint is too severe and might require further medical intervention such as a steroid injection or in more extreme cases surgical treatment to correct the bone structural damage.”