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Physical therapy for femoroacetabular impingement

What is femoroacetabular impingement?

The hip is a ball-and-socket joint made up of the acetabulum (part of the large pelvic bone), and the femoral head (the upper end of the thigh bone). Typically, cartilage covers the surface of both the ball and the socket, creating a smooth surface that allows the bones to glide across one another easily and with minimal friction.

In patients with femoroacetabular impingement (FAI), bone growths called “spurs” develop around either the acetabulum or femoral head (or both), hindering this smooth gliding motion. Over time, friction in the joint can cause the cartilage to break down, resulting in osteoarthritis.

Source: OrthoInfo

Femoroacetabular impingement symptoms

There are three types of FAI: pincer, cam, and combined. A pincer impingement occurs when bone spurs develop around the rim of the acetabulum. A cam impingement, on the other hand, occurs when imperfections in the femoral head catch on the side of the acetabulum. A combined impingement occurs when bone spurs exist on both the ball and socket.

Patients with FAI may experience quite painful and severe symptoms, or no symptoms at all. In the event that symptoms do arise, they’re likely to take the form of pain or aching in the inner hip or groin areas, especially after prolonged sitting or walking. Patients may also experience a locking or clicking sensation in the hip joint.

The most common symptoms of femoroacetabular impingement include:

  • Pain in the hip joint
  • A locking, clicking sensation in the hip joint
  • Pain after prolonged sitting or walking
  • Low back pain

Source: Stanford Health Care

What causes femoroacetabular impingement?

FAI occurs when the femoral head or hip socket are misshapen. Genetics can play a role; some patients are born with a structurally abnormal ball-and-socket joint. In other cases, repetitive activity can lead to FAI in, for example, athletes who play football, soccer, or tennis — all of which sports require recurring movement beyond the legs’ normal range of motion.

Injury or disease can also contribute to FAI. Perthes disease, or a growth plate fracture in the femur represent just a few examples.

The most common causes of femoroacetabular impingement include:

  • Genetics
  • Repetitive activity that overextends the leg
  • Injury
  • Disease

Source: Wash U

Physical therapy for femoroacetabular impingement

FAI physical therapy encompasses two goals: pain management and mobility improvement. Therapeutic modalities such as heat and electrical stimulation may be deployed to control pain in patients with FAI, though it’s more likely that a physical therapist will prescribe strength and flexibility exercises first.

Strength and flexibility exercises can help reduce pain and improve mobility in patients with FAI. Most commonly, a physical therapist will create a routine that focuses on stretching and strengthening the hip as well as strengthening the core. Hip flexor stretches and groin stretches are both effective, as are hip exercises like bridges and hip raises.

Source: VeryWellHealth

Luna’s physical therapists treat
femoroacetabular impingement

Luna employs physical therapists that specialize in treating patients with femoroacetabular impingement. Our PTs help patients adjust to life with their hip condition, creating stretching and strengthening routines designed to allow them to participate in the activities they love — with as little pain as possible.

The best part? With Luna, your therapist comes to you — it’s physical therapy, delivered.

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