Risk of Hip Labral Tear in Athletes

A hip labral tear involves the soft elastic tissue (the labrum) on the outside rim of the hip joint socket. The labrum helps hold the ball at the top of your thighbone in place, providing stability and preventing bone rubbing on bone.

Athletes at a higher risk of developing a hip labral tear are those involved in wide extension, repetitive motion or constant forward leaning; soccer, biking, ballet, hockey, football and golf and just a few high incidence sports. Repetitive motions – such as sudden twisting or pivoting motions – can lead to joint wear and tear, which ultimately becomes a labral tear. These injuries also frequently occur in contact sports as a result of kicking the ball, or getting tackled and twisting the hip abnormally. Preexisting structural abnormalities of the hip can also contribute to a labral tear.

Often athletes do not display any symptoms when they have a labral tear, which can result in a labral tear being undiagnosed. Athletes may feel a catching or clicking sensation in their hip joints, stiffness or a limited range of motion, or they may just experience general hip pain.

A physician may perform an MRI to determine tissue damage. Depending on the severity of the tear, conservative measures may help some recover within a few weeks. However, many require arthroscopic surgery to trim, repair or remove the torn section of the labrum.

Post-operation procedures include crutches and physical therapy to return to the original range of motion, strength and joint stability.

For dedicated athletes, the risk of a labral tear can be high, and every individual’s joint health is different. However, strengthening and developing muscles of the legs and hips and performing stability exercises can help protect athletes against these tears.

Reference: Mayo Clinic, “Hip Labral Tear,” March 25, 2011. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hip-labral-tear/DS00920

Reference: LiveStrong, “5 Things You Need to Know About Hip Labrum Tear,” April 26, 2011. http://www.livestrong.com/article/5072-need-hip-labrum-tear/