Hip impingement is a condition where the ball and socket of the hip joint do not fit together as they should. In serious cases, surgery can repair the joint and resolve symptoms.
The medical term for hip impingement is femoroacetabular impingement (FAI). This condition is due to an abnormal shape of the hip joint that allows the femur (thigh bone) and the socket to rub together.
Doctors treat FAI with rest, methods to reduce inflammation, and surgery.
Here’s more about what surgical options help with hip impingement, how these procedures are done, and what to expect during recovery.
Symptoms of FAI include limping along with pain and stiffness in your hip joint.
This pain may be felt most in the groin when twisting or squatting. Some people have sharp pain, while others experience more of a dull ache.
Mild FAI can be treated with noninvasive methods, which may include:
- resting to reduce friction in your joint
- avoiding positions that worsen the pain
- taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- taking medications such as corticosteroids to reduce inflammation
- physical therapy may also help with your overall mobility and joint strength
When the damage is severe, your doctor may suggest surgery to repair the hip joint itself and reduce friction.
Without treatment, people with FAI may develop osteoarthritis in their hip joint, leading to chronic pain and reduced mobility. It can also lead to arthritis or a labral tear.
But some people may have already developed hip osteoarthritis from impingement. If this is the case, hip impingment surgery may not be the best option, and they may instead need a hip replacement.
A qualified doctor can help you determine the best treatment option for you.
The goal of surgery is to restore the ball and socket shape of the hip so that it has a perfectly round sphere shape, and the socket is a perfectly round bowl.
Surgical options include arthroscopic hip surgery, which is a minimally invasive procedure. While you are under general or spinal anesthesia, your doctor will make a small incision and insert a tiny camera into your hip joint. The images allow your surgeon to perform the surgery using miniature surgical tools.
Traditional open hip surgery may help in the most severe cases. A large incision allows your doctor to visualize the entire joint to assess and repair the damage.
FAI is relatively common in the general population. Around
It is also common in adolescents, especially those who are involved in athletics.
In fact, the prevalence of FAI in athletes of all ages may be as high as
Your return to walking will happen in stages.
|first 3–4 weeks||physical therapy (PT) to work on passive range of motion (non-weight bearing)|
|4 weeks||beginning active range of motion, like standing and light walking|
|4–8 weeks||continued strengthening and gait training|
|8–12 weeks||strength training in the hip and core, balance work, and proprioception|
|12 weeks and beyond||increased weight-bearing activities, like jogging and jumping|
It’s important to speak with your surgeon and follow their rehabilitation plan, as they recommend.
Many people are able to return to their regular activities after their recovery period. Some may need to trade high impact activities for lower-impact exercises, depending on the extent of the damage prior to surgery.
Complications after hip surgery, particularly arthroscopy, are uncommon.
They may include:
- injury to nerves or blood vessels that surround the hip joint
- temporary numbness in the groin from the stretching of nerves
- blood clots in the legs
- postoperative infection
When to seek medical care after hip surgery
You will likely see your doctor for regular follow-ups after your surgery. Contact your doctor if you experience complications or have other concerns that cannot wait until your scheduled appointment.
- warmth around your incision
- pus or other drainage around your incision
- fever or generally feeling unwell
- increasing pain
- issues with wound healing
Total recovery time from surgery is individual and may take as long as
Recovery time will depend on the type of surgery you had, the extent of the damage before you had surgery, and other factors that affect your overall health.
Steroid injections may help as a therapeutic way to deal with any pain.
You don’t need to live with hip pain. If you are experiencing stiffness, aching, or other issues in your hip joint, contact your doctor. Various nonsurgical options may help prevent serious damage. If the condition is more advanced, surgery is both safe and effective and can help you get back to the activities you love.