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What is hip impingement, and can I prevent it?

When is groin or hip pain a symptom of a joint injury called a hip impingement? One of Summit Orthopedics’ sports medicine experts, Jack Skendzel, M.D., explains what hip impingement is, and how it is treated.

Hip pain. No one wants it. Sometimes it comes on gradually, and sometimes an impact or a deep flexing of the joint brings on sudden pain. Dr. Jack Skendzel explains when pain in your hip or groin could be a symptom of a condition called hip impingement.

What is hip impingement?

Hip and knee sub-specialty surgeon Dr. Skendzel explains that hip impingement is a condition caused when a person is born with too much bone on the femur or on the cup that holds the femur.

“This condition isn’t something you can prevent,” says Dr. Skendzel. “It’s almost always something you are born with—but it’s important to point out that many people with this excess bone in the hip joint are asymptomatic. Just because a person has this deformity doesn’t mean that they have hip problems. Hip impingement can show up on an X-ray for a patient where the condition isn’t bothering them at all. It doesn’t require surgery unless something happens to injure the joint and cause pain.”

What causes hip impingement pain?

Typically, pain caused by hip impingement is triggered by an injury to the joint. “In the patients I see,” explains Dr. Skendzel, “there’s usually an incident that causes an issue with hip joint motion. These issues can crop up in the course of active sports; once, a patient tore her labrum in a yoga class stretch. The injury happens when the fibrocartilaginous material cushioning the bones in the hip joint, called the labrum, gets caught between the femur and the cup and is torn. That’s what’s painful.”

Advances in technology for hip impingement repair

In the past, imaging technology could not detect labral tears. Treatment involved a very invasive surgical procedure, even when they were diagnosed. Advancements in technology over the last 10 years, plus improved awareness around this injury, have significantly improved both diagnosis and treatment.

“Ten to fifteen years ago, landmark research was published in Switzerland indicating that hip impingement conditions could be a cause of arthritis if left untreated,” explains Dr. Skendzel. “This research focused attention on hip impingement. Imaging improved, and arthroscopic techniques got good enough where we could repair these hip problems with minimally invasive procedures.”

Today, labral repair surgery is able to repair the tear and shave off the bone so that the injury won’t recur. “Shaving off the bone is just as important as repairing the tear,” notes Dr. Skendzel. “If you don’t correct the impingement, it’s just going to happen again.”

Although cases of asymptomatic hip impingement condition don’t require medical treatment, persistent groin or hip pain should prompt a consultation with an orthopedic hip sub-specialist. If a labral tear is the problem, prompt diagnosis and treatment is the best way to maximize your recovery.

Summit Orthopedics offers comprehensive sports medicine expertise

From Olympians to pro athletes to kids in youth sports and those that just want to be more active—Summit Orthopedics delivers expert care by fellowship-trained sports medicine physicians. If you are recently injured or concerned about ongoing pain, Summit Orthopedics sports medicine specialists have the expertise to evaluate your discomfort and develop a plan to quickly and safely help you get back to being active.

Start your journey to stronger, healthier athletic condition. Find your sports medicine expert, request an appointment online, or call us at (651) 968–5201 to schedule a sports medicine consultation.

Summit has convenient locations across the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, serving Minnesota and western Wisconsin. We have state-of-the-art centers for comprehensive orthopedic care in Eagan, MNPlymouth, MN, Vadnais Heights, MN, and Woodbury, MN, as well as additional community clinics throughout the metro and southern Minnesota.

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