Labral Tears

Treatment of a labral tear depends on many factors. Two important factors are the severity of the person's symptoms and the characteristics of the tear. A person's age and hip joint health are also considered. People with hip arthritis are usually not candidates for surgery to repair or remove a torn labrum.

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

  • Refixation, which repairs the labral tissue using stitches
  • Debridement, which involves removing a small portion of the labrum

If surgery is not recommended and you still have discomfort, we offer physical therapy.  A physical therapist can help you find exercises that keep your joints as healthy and pain free as possible.

What Is a Labral Tear?

hip pain caused by labral tear

When the labrum is torn, the hip may lose stability.

The labrum is a rim of soft cartilage that surrounds the acetabulum (hip socket). The labrum adds to the stability of the hip by deepening the socket. It also protects the joint surface. The labrum can tear as the result of an injury. But, it is more often related to FAI. Labral tears may also be present in people with hip arthritis. In this case, the labral tear may be part of an overall degeneration of the joint. In these people, 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. This pain typically occurs during physical activity or with deep flexion (bending) and rotation of the hip. The hip may also click or a catch deep within the hip during certain activities. Hip flexor tendonitis, hip bursitis and other soft-tissue hip injuries can cause symptoms similar to a labral tear. This is why it is important to be seen by a hip and sports medicine expert.

How Are Labral Tears Diagnosed?

Most hip pain that lasts more than a few days should be looked at by a physician. The physician will ask about symptoms and the history of injury. He or she will also perform an exam. To verify the diagnosis, a specialized MRI of the hip, called an MRI arthrogram, is done. X-rays may be used to look at the structure of the hip. People with labral tears sometimes have excess bone at the ball of the hip joint.


Sports Medicine Appointments & Referrals

Specialists

Sports Medicine Locations

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

La Jolla

Hillcrest

Encinitas

Scripps Ranch