What is Femoroacetabular Impingement (FAI)?
Femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) is a condition in which extra bone grows along one or both of the bones that form the hip joint — giving the bones an irregular shape. The hip is a ball and socket joint, so when one or both of the bones do not fit together perfectly, the bones rub against each other during movement. This is commonly the result of either an abnormally shaped ball (cam lesion) or socket (pincer lesion), or both (mixed cam and pincer). Over time, this can result in tears of the labrum as well as the development of osteoarthritis, if left untreated.
Symptoms of FAI
Patients with FAI typically experience pain in the groin and hips. The condition typically develops over time so patients experience increased pain severity. Pain is also typically experienced during movement, although as the condition develops, the pain may become constant. Common symptoms of FAI include:
- Pain in the inner hip or groin area
- Sharp pain after certain movements like squatting, twisting, or pivoting
- A dull ache with prolonged sitting, walking, or after a workout
- Locking, clicking, or catching sensation in the hip
- Pain when transitioning from sitting to a standing position
- Restricted hip movement
Some people may live long, active lives with FAI and never have any problems. However, when symptoms develop it usually indicates that there is damage to the cartilage or labrum. Physically active people may experience pain from FAI earlier than those who are less active, but in most cases, exercise does not cause FAI.
How is FAI treated?
Treatment of hip impingement begins with conservative, non-surgical methods such as rest, activity modifications, and anti-inflammatory medications. In some cases, physical therapy may help by improving the patient’s range of motion and strengthening the core and gluteal muscles. An injection of the hip joint with anesthetic and steroid can also provide some relief, as well as diagnostic information in patients with symptoms that are unresponsive to treatment. When surgery is necessary, Dr. Potts may suggest a minimally invasive hip arthroscopy procedure to reshape the ball and socket of the hip joint. During this procedure, Dr. Potts can also address labral tears to restore normal function.