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Labral Tears

Labral Tears

DESCRIPTION

In a significant number of people, labral tears can be part of the natural aging process of the hip joint and may not cause any symptoms.  A very careful history and physical examination is required to determine if hip pain is coming from a labral tear or another cause.

CONDITION

Labral tears can be caused by:

  • Trauma
  • Arthritis/degeneration
  • Acetabular Dysplasia/Developmental Dysplasia
  • Femoroacetabular Impingement(FAI)
  • Acetabular Retroversion

Frequent symptoms of labral tears are:

  • Groin/hip pain
  • Clicking/Catching in the hip
  • Restricted hip range of motion

Types of Tears

Tears of the cartilage can be full thickness, partial thickness or degenerative and can torn in multiple layers.  The tears are typically circumferential (around the ring of the labrum) rather than radial (directly from the outer edge of the labrum to the bone).

Tears can be associated with cysts (paralabral cysts), which are collections of fluid in the tissue outside the joint.  A tear in the labrum, or hip cartilage, can act as a ‘flap valve’ which causes fluid to become trapped outside the joint.

Once there is a tear in the labrum, it is unlikely to heal by itself.  It may however be managed so that it doesn’t cause problems.  Many people have labral tears as part of the natural aging process of the hip, and they do not require treatment.

Tears can be associated with cysts (paralabral cysts), which are collections of fluid in the tissue outside the joint.  A tear in the labrum, or hip cartilage, can act as a ‘flap valve’ which causes fluid to become trapped outside the joint.

Once there is a tear in the labrum, it is unlikely to heal by itself.  It may however be managed so that it doesn’t cause problems.  Many people have labral tears as part of the natural aging process of the hip, and they do not require treatment.

Left: hip instability (the hip moving in and out of joint) can cause labral tears.  Right: an abnormal shape of the femoral head due to femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) can cause the labrum to tear. (Lavigne et al CORR 2004)
Left: detached/displaced labral tear.  Right: Labral compression causing labral tearing.
Right:  MRI image demonstrating a labral tear (indicated by white arrow)
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