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Femoroacetabular Impingement (FAI)

Femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) is a condition in which the ball and socket of the hip joint do not fit together perfectly. Because of this, the bones rub against each other during movement and this friction eventually damages the joint. FAI, over time, can lead to labral tears and arthritis.

What causes it?

FAI is the result of abnormally shaped hip bones. If normal bone formation does not occur during childhood growth years, little can be done to stave off the development of FAI. Some who have this condition are asymptomatic and experience no affects from FAI. Once symptoms appear, the condition generally progresses.

How do you know you have it?

Common symptoms of FAI are:

  • Pain
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling

The pain may be a dull ache or a sharp stabbing pain, often in the groin or the outside of the hip.

How we fix it

The OSI hip team is here to listen, discuss your concerns, and examine you for signs and symptoms of FAI. Upon the initial appearance of symptoms, try to identify the movement or activity that resulted in the pain. Also, when painful symptoms persist, it’s time to see your OSI hip specialist: the longer these go without treatment, the more damage they can cause. Under our care, any of the following may be used to determine the best course of treatment:

  • Physical exam: Your doctor will discuss your overall medical history and specific hip symptoms. A passive motion test for hip impingement may be conducted as well.
  • X-rays: X-rays will show abnormally shaped bones or arthritis.
  • MRI: An MRI can find labrum or cartilage damage.

Nonsurgical Treatment

There are a number of nonsurgical approaches to treat FAI:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs such as ibuprofen) to reduce pain and swelling.
  • Physical therapy. Specific exercises can help increase range of motion as well as help strengthen the muscles. Benefits can extend to the injured labrum or cartilage.
  • Activity Modification. Activities that result in symptoms may necessitate changes in your routine.

Surgical Treatment

A surgical approach may be necessary if nonsurgical techniques do not alleviate your symptoms. Arthroscopy, a minimally invasive surgical option, is often the preferred approach for many issues associated with FAI. Successful reduction of symptoms and the prevention of future damage to the joint are very likely with surgery, although it is possible that problems may reoccur, especially if treatment was delayed.

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