High incidence of athletic pubalgia symptoms in professional athletes with symptomatic femoroacetabular impingement

Arthroscopy. 2012 Oct;28(10):1388-95. doi: 10.1016/j.arthro.2012.02.024. Epub 2012 May 19.


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to identify the incidence of symptoms consistent with athletic pubalgia (AP) in athletes requiring surgical treatment for femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) and the frequency of surgical treatment of both AP and FAI in this group of patients.

Methods: Thirty-eight consecutive professional athletes, with a mean age of 31 years, underwent arthroscopic surgery for symptomatic FAI that limited their ability to play competitively. In all cases a cam and/or focal rim osteoplasty with labral refixation or debridement was performed. In 1 case concomitant intramuscular lengthening of the psoas was performed. Retrospective data regarding prior AP surgery and return to play were collected.

Results: Thirty-two percent of patients had previously undergone AP surgery, and 1 patient underwent AP surgery concomitantly with surgical treatment of FAI. No patient returned to his previous level of competition after isolated AP surgery. Thirty-nine percent had AP symptoms that resolved with FAI surgery alone. Of the 38 patients, 36 returned to their previous level of play; all 12 patients with combined AP and FAI surgery returned to professional competition. The mean duration before return to play was 5.9 months (range, 3 to 9 months) after arthroscopic surgery.

Conclusions: There is a high incidence of symptoms of AP in professional athletes with FAI of the hip. This study draws attention to the overlap of these 2 diagnoses and highlights the importance of exercising caution in diagnosing AP in a patient with FAI.

Level of evidence: Level IV, therapeutic, retrospective case series.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arthroscopy
  • Athletic Injuries / complications
  • Athletic Injuries / surgery
  • Femoracetabular Impingement / complications
  • Femoracetabular Impingement / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Pain / epidemiology
  • Pain / etiology
  • Pain / surgery*