Labral Tears

Treatment of a labral tear depends on the severity of the symptoms and the specific characteristics of the tear, as well as your age and hip joint health.

If you have been diagnosed with a labral tear, we recommend you see a sports medicine physician with expertise in labral tears and hip arthroscopy. If you are a candidate for hip arthroscopy, our orthopedic surgeons offer:

  • Refixation, repair of the labral tissue using suture
  • Debridement, removal of a small portion of the labrum

If surgery is not recommended and you still have discomfort, we offer physical therapy and help with finding exercises that do not trigger pain but keep you and your joints as healthy as possible.

Frequently Asked Questions about Labral Tears

What Is a Labral Tear?

The labrum is a rim of soft tissue or fibrocartilage that surrounds the acetabulum (hip socket). The labrum adds to the stability of the hip by deepening the socket and protects the joint surface. The labrum can tear as the result of an injury, but is more often related to FAI. The labrum can also tear when there is osteoarthritis in the hip, as a part of the overall degeneration of the joint. When there is a labral tear due to osteoarthritis, treatment is usually geared towards treating the arthritic joint as a whole.

What Are the Symptoms of a Labral Tear?

Labral tears often cause pain in the groin or front of the hip during physical activity or with deep flexion (bending) and rotation of the hip. Some individuals with labral tears of the hip will also have clicking or a sense of catching deep within the hip during certain activities.

How Are Labral Tears Diagnosed?

Most hip pain that lasts more than a few days should be evaluated by a physician. The diagnosis of a labral tear is usually made by a detailed examination by your sports medicine physician. To verify the diagnosis, a specialized MRI of the hip, called an MRI arthrogram, is done. X-rays are also commonly taken to evaluate the bony structure of the hip, which is sometimes abnormal in people with labral tears.

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UC San Diego Health offers expertise in sports medicine within family medicine, orthopedics, surgery and rehabilitation. Not all services are available at all locations.

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