A comprehensive review of hip labral tears

Curr Rev Musculoskelet Med. 2009 Jun;2(2):105-17. doi: 10.1007/s12178-009-9052-9. Epub 2009 Apr 7.


The hip labrum has many functions, including shock absorption, joint lubrication, pressure distribution, and aiding in stability, with damage to the labrum associated with osteoarthritis. The etiology of labral tears includes trauma, femoroacetabular impingement (FAI), capsular laxity/hip hypermobility, dysplasia, and degeneration. Labral tears present with anterior hip or groin pain, and less commonly buttock pain. Frequently, there are also mechanical symptoms including clicking, locking, and giving way. The most consistent physical examination finding is a positive anterior hip impingement test. Because of the vast differential diagnosis and the need for specialized diagnostic tools, labral tears frequently go undiagnosed during an extended period of time. Evaluation usually begins with plain radiographs to assess for dysplasia, degeneration, and other causes of pain. While magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography scans are unreliable for diagnosis, magnetic resonance arthrography (MRA) is the diagnostic test of choice, with arthroscopy being the gold standard. Typically, treatment begins conservatively with relative rest and non-steroid anti-inflammatory agents, with physical therapy (PT) being controversial. Often, surgical treatment is necessary, which entails, arthroscopic debridement of labral tears and surgical repair of associated structural problems.