Painful hip? It may be FAI!

A painful hip can be a pain in the butt! Low back pain and pelvic pain can all be related to a painful hip. One cause of a painful hip could be femOroacetabular impingEment, ALSO KNOWN AS ‘FAI’.

What is FAI?

FAI is a change in the anatomy and bone structure of your hip. Your hip joint is a ball-and-socket type joint involving the top of the thigh bone (femur) and the part where it attaches to in the pelvis (the acetabulum). Once cause of painful hip condition is called femoroacetabular impingement.

Femoroacetabular Impingement is a condition in which extra bone grows along one or both of the bones that form the hip joint- the ball of the thigh bone or the socket it attaches to in the pelvis (acetabulum). This irregular shape causes the bones to rub against each other during movement, causing pain, discomfort and restrictions to movement.

There are three types of FAI: ‘pincer’, ‘cam’ and ‘combined impingement’. All of these equal a painful hip, lower back or pelvic pain.

Pincer: Pincer-type FAI occurs when there is an overgrowth of bone on the pelvic aspect of the hip joint. This commonly affects middle-aged women and is less common.

Cam: Cam-type FAI occurs when there is an overgrowth of bone on the aspect of the femur which articulates with the pelvis. This typically affects young athletic men.

Combined: As the name suggests, this type of FAI involves a combination of the Cam and Pincer types.

What causes FAI?

It is believed that some people have normal variants to the bony structure of their hip joints (everyone is different!). These variants can result in increased friction between the two bones, which may result in pain and decreased range of motion. However, the hip has to also be provoked in some way to cause damage or irritation. This explains the tendency for athletes, sporting professionals and active people to be more susceptible to this form of injury.

What can we do?

Osteopaths can use a variety of techniques to treat your painful hip, including soft tissue massage, joint articulation and traction, and stretching. Osteopaths can also give you some rehabilitation exercises to do, which will improve your symptoms and decrease the likelihood of reoccurrence.

How long will it take to get better?

As said earlier, everyone is different therefore healing times differ from person to person. With regular osteopathic treatment and relative rest, the symptoms associated with FAI should begin to ease within a few weeks. Once you are pain-free, we will work at getting you back into the sport or activity you love by incorporating exercise rehabilitation. If symptoms persist, your Osteopath may refer you on for further scans or an opinion from a sports doctor.

What can I do now?

Hips with FAI don’t like being compressed, so when sitting down make sure the angle at your hip joint is more than 90 degrees. One way you can do this is to raise the seat on an adjustable chair (i.e. at work on a desk chair). Another way you can increase the space at your hip is to sit on a pillow so that your pelvis is tilted forward. Altering the space at your hip will give you some short-term relief before you get it treated.

If you have hip pain, low back pain or pelvic pain, Dr. Sarah Duggan can perform an orthopaedic examination on you and talk you through her findings while developing the best management plan for you moving in to the future.

This blog post is an educational tool only.  It is not a replacement for medical advice from a registered and qualified doctor or health professional.

Phone: (03) 9773 8085–conditions/femoroacetabular-impingement/

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