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Pain Management Health Center

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Hip Impingement

Hip Impingement Tests and Diagnosis

If you have symptoms of hip impingement, your doctor can diagnose the problem based on your description of your symptoms, a physical exam, and the findings of imaging tests. These tests may include one or more of the following:

  • X-ray, a test that produces images of internal structures on film. X-rays can show irregularities in the shape of the ball or top of the thigh bone or excess bone around the rim of the socket.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), a procedure that uses large magnets, radio waves, and a computer to produce detailed pictures of tissues inside the body. An MRI can show fraying or tears of the cartilage, including that which runs along rim of the socket (labrum).
  • CT scan, a technique that combines special X-ray equipment with sophisticated computers to produce multiple images or pictures of the inside of the body. These images can be examined on a computer, printed, or transferred to a CD. A CT or MRI scan can help a doctor decide whether you need surgery.

Hip Impingement Treatments

Treatment for hip impingement should begin with:

  • Resting the affected hip
  • Modifying your activities to avoid moving the joint in a way that causes pain
  • Exercising as recommended by your doctor or physical therapist to strengthen the muscles that support the hip
  • Taking anti-inflammatory and pain medications

If these treatments do not relieve pain, your doctor may recommend hip impingement surgery.

The type of surgery needed will depend on the problem causing hip impingement and how much cartilage damage has occurred.

If the affected hip does not have too much cartilage damage, the surgeon may use tools to reshape the ball and/or the outside edge of the socket that is catching on the thigh bone. In a technique called microfracture, the surgeon may also cut away the frayed cartilage that is causing pain or drill holes into patches of bone where cartilage has worn away in order to stimulate cartilage growth. Microfracture is being used less frequently.

Often, surgery for hip impingement can be performed arthroscopically. This technique involves inserting a lighted scope and thin tools through small incisions over your hip instead of making a large incision. Arthroscopy is usually an outpatient surgery. This means you can go home the same day.

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