Published: Nov. 11, 2010
Updated: Jan. 27, 2012
Femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) is a condition produced by abnormal bone contact in the hip joint. This results in wear-and-tear changes in the hip over many years.
In hip impingement, the ball (femoral head) and socket (acetabulum) contact each other abnormally, creating damage to the hip joint.
The damage can occur to the articular cartilage (smooth white surface of the ball or socket) or to the labral cartilage (soft tissue bumper of the socket).
FAI may stem from cam deformities, pincer deformities, or a mix of the two. Cam deformities occur when the femoral head has an area that is not round, while pincer deformities are characterized by having too much coverage of the acetabulum (cup) over the femoral head. Both conditions create abnormal contact between the head and socket.
In general, extensive damage to the articular cartilage is referred to as arthritis.
Symptoms of hip impingement most commonly include groin pain, but frequently can occur in the thigh, buttock, or lower back.
The pain is often intensified by sitting and twisting movements. Daily activities such as getting in and out of a car, putting on your socks and shoes, and climbing up stairs can be painful. The onset of symptoms is usually gradual. Hips may also buckle and a sharp, locking hip pain may occur.
A physical examination and review of your medical history and pain symptoms will help your doctor determine diagnosis of the hip impingement. The physical exam typically focuses on the patient's posture, stance, and gait.
Additionally, radiology experts may use x-rays and other diagnostic imaging to assist with diagnosis of FAI hip.
Hip pain is commonly misdiagnosed. If you are concerned about your hip pain and suspect femoroacetabular impingement, make an appointment with a hip specialist.
Hip arthroscopy is an effective treatment for damage to the hip resulting from FAI when there is no or only limited associated arthritis present. Surgeons can repair labral tears and reshape the bone deformities leading to substantial improvements in function and decreased pain.
Duke physicians evaluate each patient’s individual circumstance to determine if he or she is an ideal candidate for hip arthroscopy.
Duke Orthopaedics treats femoroacetabular impingement at locations throughout North Carolina, including Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and Cary, North Carolina.
At Duke Orthopaedics, our doctors often treat FAI hip with arthroscopic surgery. The following video demonstrates this procedure.