Picture a scoop of ice cream sitting on top of a small waffle cone. Usually, that’s what your hip joint looks like: The ball of your hip joint (femoral head, which is the very top of your thigh bone -- it’s the ice cream) sits on the femoral neck (a small section of bone that leads to your thigh bone -- it’s the cone).
Hip impingement, also called femoroacetabular impingement (FAI), occurs when your ice cream cone (femoral head and neck) rubs against the socket of your hip joint. This rubbing results in an uncomfortable and often painful pinching or catching sensation.
If left untreated, hip impingement can damage your hip joint. It can cause labral tears and arthritis. Dr. Joshua D. Harris cares for our patients in Houston, Texas, and is an expert in treating hip impingement. He encourages you to be aware of these common causes and risk factors for hip impingement.
Common causes of hip impingement
Hip impingements are generally classified into two categories: cam and pincer.
A cam hip impingement means your femoral head and neck are not perfectly round, which can result in abnormal contact between the ball and socket. A pincer impingement describes overcoverage of the ball, or that your hip socket’s bony rim comes out too far.
Both of these forms of hip impingement are usually due to:
- Misshapen femoral head (ball)
- Misshapen femoral neck
- Hip socket rim that extends too far
Risk factors for hip impingement
Hip impingement is common in competitive athletes, but anyone of any age can develop FAI. Some risk factors for this condition include:
- Genetics or family history of hip impingement
- Participation in intense sports
- High physical activity level
- Prior injury
Some sports are more heavily associated with hip impingement, including martial arts, cycling, rowing, ballet, football, hockey, baseball, rugby, and soccer. Activities that require deep squats, such as powerlifting, may also contribute to hip impingement.
Treatment options for hip impingement
To diagnose whether you have a hip impingement, Dr. Harris performs a thorough physical exam and asks you about your medical and health history. He also instructs you through a number of orthopedic tests to evaluate your range of motion in your hip. Then, you’ll have X-rays or an MRI or a CT scan of your hip.
If Dr. Harris determines you have a hip impingement that has not responded well to non-surgical treatments, surgical treatment usually involves arthroscopy, a minimally invasive surgery. During the surgery, he reshapes your hip ball and socket to eliminate the rubbing and catching, effectively eliminating your pain. After surgery, you begin physical therapy.
If you think you may have a hip impingement, don’t delay treatment. Call Dr. Harris today or book an appointment online.