Patient Education

To help you understand and navigate through your orthopedic health decisions, we have created a patient education section. Please select from one of the categories below to learn more about your condition or procedure.
Femoroacetabular Impingement (FAI)

Femoroacetabular Impingement (FAI) is a condition where there is abnormal contact between the ball (femoral head) and socket (acetabulum) of the hip joint, leading to pain and restricted hip movement. This condition can eventually lead to hip joint damage if not treated appropriately. Here are different types of FAI:

Cam Type:

  • Description: The femoral head is not perfectly round and may cause friction during hip movement.
  • Result: Can lead to damage of the acetabular cartilage.

Pincer Type:

  • Description: The acetabulum has extra coverage or an overgrowth that causes impingement.
  • Result: Can lead to labral tears or cartilage damage due to excessive coverage.

Mixed Type:

  • Description: Combines characteristics of both cam and pincer types of impingement.
  • Result: Can have a combination of damage to both the femoral head and acetabulum.

Common Symptoms

  • Groin Pain: Typically worsens with hip flexion or internal rotation.
  • Hip Stiffness: Limited range of motion, especially with activities like squatting or sitting for prolonged periods.
  • Clicking or Catching Sensation: Often felt during certain movements.
  • Painful or Restricted Movement: Difficulty performing activities that involve hip rotation or flexion.

Cause & Anatomy

  • Structural Abnormalities: Irregular shape of the femoral head or acetabulum.
  • Genetic Predisposition: Family history of hip disorders or structural abnormalities.
  • Hip Joint Overuse: Repetitive activities that involve hip flexion or rotation (e.g., sports like soccer, hockey, ballet).
  • Developmental Factors: Abnormalities in hip joint development during childhood or adolescence.

Diagnosis

Physical Examination:

  • Assessment of hip range of motion, pain with certain movements, and specific tests to provoke impingement.

Imaging Studies:

  • X-rays: Assess the shape of the hip joint, detect bone spurs, and evaluate joint space.
  • MRI or CT Scan: Detailed imaging to assess soft tissues such as the labrum and cartilage, and to confirm the presence and type of impingement.

Prevention

Preventing Femoroacetabular Impingement (FAI) primarily involves managing risk factors and adopting lifestyle habits that promote healthy hip joint function. While some factors like genetic predisposition cannot be changed, there are preventive measures individuals can take to reduce the likelihood of developing FAI or to minimize its impact. Here are some prevention strategies

Maintain Healthy Body Weight:

  • Excess body weight can increase stress on the hip joints. Maintaining a healthy weight through balanced diet and regular exercise can reduce this stress.

Proper Exercise Technique:

  • Engage in activities with proper technique and form, especially those involving repetitive hip movements (e.g., sports, exercise routines).
  • Avoid overloading the hip joint with excessive force or repetitive motions that could contribute to wear and tear.

Cross-Training and Variety:

  • Incorporate a variety of exercises and activities that promote balanced muscle development around the hip joint.
  • Cross-train to avoid overuse injuries and to maintain overall joint health.

Warm-Up and Stretching:

  • Prior to engaging in physical activities or sports, perform adequate warm-up exercises to prepare muscles and joints for movement.
  • Include stretching exercises to maintain flexibility in the hip joint and surrounding muscles.

Avoid Prolonged Sitting or Standing:

  • Alternate between sitting and standing positions if possible to reduce prolonged pressure on the hip joints.
  • Take breaks and perform gentle stretches if you have to sit or stand for long periods.

Proper Footwear:

  • Wear supportive footwear that provides cushioning and stability, especially during activities that involve impact or repetitive movements.

Early Management of Hip Pain or Discomfort:

  • Pay attention to any early signs of hip pain, stiffness, or discomfort.
  • Seek prompt evaluation and treatment from a healthcare professional if symptoms persist or worsen.

Regular Physical Activity:

  • Engage in regular physical activity that promotes overall joint health and muscle strength.
  • Include exercises that strengthen the core and hip muscles to support proper hip joint mechanics.

Educate and Raise Awareness:

  • Educate yourself and others, including coaches, trainers, and healthcare providers, about the signs, symptoms, and risk factors of FAI.
  • Advocate for early screening and intervention in individuals at higher risk, such as athletes or those with a family history of hip disorders.

Medical Evaluation for Risk Factors:

  • Individuals with a family history of hip disorders or structural abnormalities should consider early evaluation, including imaging studies if indicated, to monitor hip joint health.

Non-Surgical Treatment

Activity Modification:

  • Avoiding activities that provoke symptoms, such as deep squatting or activities requiring hip flexion.

Physical Therapy:

  • Strengthening exercises to improve hip muscle balance and stability.
  • Stretching exercises to improve flexibility and reduce tightness.
  • Core strengthening to improve overall hip joint mechanics.

Medications:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce pain and inflammation.

Surgery

Hip Arthroscopy:

  • Procedure: Minimally invasive surgery to reshape the femoral head or acetabulum, remove bone spurs, and repair the labrum.
  • Outcome: Often successful in relieving symptoms and restoring hip function.

Open Hip Surgery:

  • Procedure: Used for more complex cases where extensive reshaping or realignment of the hip joint is required.

Osteotomy:

  • Procedure: Surgical cutting and repositioning of the femur or pelvis to correct structural abnormalities and improve hip joint mechanics.

Rehabilitation

  • Post-Surgery Rehabilitation: Physical therapy to regain strength, flexibility, and range of motion.
  • Gradual Return to Activities: Carefully monitored to avoid re-injury and to optimize long-term hip function.
  • Follow-Up Care: Regular monitoring and imaging studies to assess healing and joint function.

FAQ’s

Can FAI be prevented?
While FAI may have genetic components, maintaining proper hip mechanics through appropriate exercise, avoiding overuse, and early management of hip pain may help reduce the risk.

Is FAI more common in athletes?
Yes, athletes involved in sports that require repetitive hip motion are at higher risk for developing FAI.

What are the long-term effects of untreated FAI?
Untreated FAI can lead to progressive hip joint damage, including labral tears, cartilage damage, osteoarthritis, and significant hip pain.

How effective is surgery for treating FAI?
Surgery, particularly hip arthroscopy, is often effective in relieving symptoms and improving hip function in patients with FAI, especially when conservative treatments fail.

What is the recovery time after hip arthroscopy for FAI?
Recovery time varies but typically involves several weeks of physical therapy and restricted activities. Full recovery to sports and high-level activities may take several months.

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