Understanding hip pathology in ballet dancers

Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc. 2022 Oct;30(10):3546-3562. doi: 10.1007/s00167-022-06928-1. Epub 2022 Mar 19.


Purpose: The literature on hip injuries in ballet dancers was systematically evaluated to answer (1) whether the prevalence of morphological abnormalities and pathology of hip injuries in dancers differs from the general population (2) if there are any specific risk factors which contribute to a higher rate of hip injury and (3) what are the outcomes of primary and secondary intervention strategies.

Methods: A systematic literature search of Medline, EMBASE and the Cochrane Library was undertaken for all literature relating to hip injuries in ballet dancers using the PRISMA guidelines. Reference lists were also searched for relevant literature. Clinical outcome studies, prospective/retrospective case series published between 1989 and October 2021 were included. Review articles (non-original data), case reports, studies on animals as well as book chapters were excluded.

Results: The search yielded 445 studies, of which 35 were included for final analyses after screening. This included 1655 participants, of which 1131 were females. The analyses revealed that damage at the chondrolabral junction and degenerative disease of the hip may develop at a higher rate in ballet dancers than in the general population (odds ratio > 1 in 15/18 cohorts). The intra-articular lesions were more frequently found in postero-superior region of the hip suggesting an alternative impingement mechanism. Furthermore, numerous risk factors specific for hip injury in ballet were highlighted amidst a wide body of literature which consistently reports risk factors for a more generic 'dancer vulnerability'.

Conclusion: Ballet dancers may suffer from both higher rates of chondrolabral damage and degenerative disease in their hips. In contrast to other sports, the intra-articular lesions are more frequently found in postero-superior region of the hip. Future research clarifying the prevalence of osseous abnormalities and prevention strategies in dancers may be pivotal in delaying the development of hip disease in this cohort.

Level of evidence: Level IV.

Keywords: Ballet; Dancer; Dysplasia; FAI; Hip; Injury; Outcomes.; Pathology; Prevalence.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Dancing* / injuries
  • Female
  • Hip
  • Hip Injuries* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retrospective Studies