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Femoroacetabular Impingement (FAI)

Femoroacetabular Impingement (FAI) 

Femoroacetabular impingement is a condition that involves the hip joint. The hip joint is a ball and socket joint that is comprised of the round-shaped head of the femur (thigh bone) and the cup shaped acetabulum of the pelvis. Normally, the head of the femur glides smoothly within the socket during hip movements. Sometimes, the shape of the femur or acetabulum is irregular, which causes abnormal contact or impingement of these structures during hip movements.

FAI is generally found in the teen through mid-adult age groups. It is common in young athletes. Symptoms of FAI include groin pain, stiffness and limited range of movement of the hip joint. FAI can lead to hip labral tears due to the friction caused by the bony contact. Diagnosis is made based upon a combination of clinical findings and x-ray. MRI scans may be used if a labral tear is suspected.

Conservative treatment for FAI includes rest from aggravating activities, modification of activity, movement re-education and exercise interventions, and anti-inflammatory medication. Surgery can be considered when symptoms persistent. Surgical rates in fact have increased considerably over the past 10-15 years. However, we really do not know if surgical care is more effective than conservative care, therefor it is best to undergo a program of conservative care as a first option.

Physical therapists are best qualified to provide a comprehensive conservative care program for FAI. Strongly consider physical therapy first if you are diagnosed with FAI. 

Marcia Spoto PT, DC, OCS

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