Symptoms of an Acetabular Labral Tear

Medically Reviewed by Tyler Wheeler, MD on January 26, 2020

A acetabular labrum tear can cause a wide variety of symptoms. Some people don't have any discomfort. Others have sharp pain around the groin, which may extend into the upper leg or buttocks. Pain can come on suddenly or develop gradually. Rotating your leg may be particularly painful.

Acetabular labral tears often cause a feeling of the leg "catching" or "clicking" in the hip socket as you move it. It may also feel like the leg is locking up.

Over time, the increased stress on the joint could lead to further deterioration and permanent damage.

Diagnosis of an Acetabular Labral Tear

Acetabular labral tears can be hard to diagnose. Studies show that, on average, people with labral tears of the hip go more than two years before getting a correct diagnosis.

Your doctor will give you a thorough evaluation, examining the hip, and getting you to flex and rotate your leg. You may need an MRI or other imaging tests to look for the tear. However, even with these tests, diagnosis is often difficult.

A more invasive way of diagnosing an acetabular labral tear is an arthroscopy, in which small incisions are made and a tool with a tiny camera is slipped into the hip to look at the labrum. If a tear of the labrum is noted during arthroscopy, your surgeon may repair the damage with tools they can introduce into the hip joint using the same small arthroscopy incisions.

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