Hip injuries and labral tears in the national football league

Am J Sports Med. 2008 Nov;36(11):2187-95. doi: 10.1177/0363546508319898. Epub 2008 Jul 18.


Background: Injuries to the hip account for approximately 10% of all injuries in football, but definitive diagnosis is often challenging. Although these injuries are often uncomplicated contusions or strains, intra-articular lesions are increasingly found to be sources of hip pain.

Purpose: The objective was to define the incidence and etiologic factors of intra- and extra-articular hip injuries in the National Football League (NFL).

Study design: Descriptive epidemiology study.

Methods: The NFL Injury Surveillance System was used to define all hip-related injuries from 1997 to 2006. Injuries were included if the athlete missed more than 2 days. All hip and groin injuries were included for evaluation. The authors also report on NFL players with intra-articular injuries seen at their institution outside of the NFL Injury Surveillance System.

Results: There were a total of 23 806 injuries from 1997 to 2006, of which 738 were hip injuries (3.1%) with an average of 12.3 days lost per injury. Muscle strains were the most common injury. Intra-articular injuries resulted in the most time lost. Contact injuries most likely resulted in a contusion, and noncontact injuries most often resulted in a muscle strain. In the authors' institutional experience, many of the athletes with labral tears have persistent adductor strains that do not improve despite adequate therapy.

Conclusion: Hip injuries represent a small but substantial percentage of injuries that occur in the NFL. A majority of these injuries are minor, with a return to play within 2 weeks. Intra-articular injuries are more serious and result in a significant loss of playing time. The "sports hip triad" (labral tear, adductor strain, and rectus strain) is described as a common injury pattern in the elite athlete.

MeSH terms

  • Cartilage / injuries*
  • Football / injuries*
  • Hip Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Hip Injuries / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sprains and Strains / epidemiology
  • United States / epidemiology