Acetabular Labral Tear Treatment Options

Reviewed by Nayana Ambardekar, MD on April 17, 2021

If you've been diagnosed with an acetabular labral tear, your doctor will probably start with conservative treatment. They may recommend using painkillers and resting the hip. However, it’s unclear how well this approach works in the long run. Most of the labrum gets little to no blood flow, making natural healing difficult or even impossible.

Physical therapy may help an acetabular labral tear. You can learn to avoid putting too much pressure on the joint while building muscle strength to support the joint.

If conservative measures don’t work, your doctor may recommend arthroscopic surgery. This is a minimally invasive approach. The doctor will guide several small tools, including a camera, to the site through two or three incisions. Usually, the torn tissue is removed, but in some cases the tear is repaired. It's still not clear, though, whether this type of treatment can help prevent hip arthritis. Plus there is some evidence that the effectiveness of such treatment is only minimal in patients over 45. So caution is urged when considering it.


As with any surgery, there are risks, including nerve damage. This side effect is usually temporary.

Surgery usually provides short-term improvement. But experts aren’t sure how long the effects last. Surgery is less likely to be successful in people who already have other problems in the hip like arthritis or hip dysplasia. Following surgery, you will need physical therapy to rebuild strength and flexibility.

Since the success of arthroscopy and surgery for an acetabular labral tear is by no means certain, talk over the pros and cons with your doctor. You may also want to get a second opinion.

WebMD Medical Reference


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Narvani, A. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 2003.

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