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Femoroacetabular Impingement (FAI)

Femoroacetabular Impingement (FAI)


Femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) is a condition in which extra bone develops along one or both of the bones that form the hip joint.  Because they do not fit together perfectly, the bones rub against each other during movement. Over time this friction can damage the joint, causing pain and limiting activity.


The hip is a complex ball-and-socket joint. The socket is formed by the acetabulum, which is part of the large pelvic bone. The ball is the femoral head, which is the upper end of the femur (thighbone). It is also supported by strong ligaments and a tough joint capsule which assist with movement and stability.

Articular cartilage covers the surface of the ball and the socket. It creates a smooth surface that helps the bones glide easily across each other during movement.

The acetabulum is ringed by tough fibrous cartilage called the labrum.  The labrum is triangular in cross section (see the image at right). The labrum forms a gasket around the socket, creating a tight seal and helping to provide stability to the joint.  It is critical for the hip to function correctly that this seal creates a suction effect.  In FAI this seal may be disrupted, either due to altered movement of the hip bones, or tearing of the labrum (seal).


Orthopaedic surgeon Melbourne
In a healthy hip, the femoral head fits perfectly into the acetabulum.
In FAI there is abnormal contact of the femoral head and acetabulum, which can cause tearing of the labrum and cartilage, which can cause hip pain.
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