Hip pain is becoming a growing concern among younger and middle-aged patients, especially in teen athletes and weekend warriors.
Pain specialists at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center say they are seeing an increasing number of patients, from adolescents to baby boomers, who are suffering from a condition known as femoral acetabular impingement, or FAI.
“FAI has become much more common in the last 10 years, and in younger people these injuries tend to be sports-related,” explained Dr. Thomas Ellis, vice chair of the department of Orthopedics and chief of Hip Preservation at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center. “While it can happen in non-athletes and weekend warriors, we commonly see this condition in those who were year-round athletes before and during puberty.”
FAI develops in individuals who have bone abnormalities or spurs that cause the ball of the femur to not fit properly in the hip socket. This abnormality makes the hip joint vulnerable to cartilage destruction caused by repetitive motions involving hip flexion, rotation, and adduction. Over time, patients may develop osteoarthritis, as well as painful symptoms in the hip, back, buttocks, and groin. Sports such as soccer, cycling, ballet, and ice hockey frequently result in FAI.
Despite increased awareness of the condition, little is known about its exact etiology.The condition is often misdiagnosed as bursitis, Piriformis syndrome, back pain, hip flexor strain, groin pull, pinched nerve, and even endometriosis. Without proper diagnosis and treatment, patients may require hip replacement surgery.
According to a 2010 study, “chiropractors can play an important role in identifying patients with possible FAI syndrome, and in facilitating the appropriate management of this disorder.” Although the abnormality cannot be corrected through conservative treatment, chiropractic care and exercise therapies may help to reduce acute pain.
More research is needed to understand the causes and proper treatment of this debilitating condition. However, for patients who have hip osteoarthritis, chiropractic care has also been found to be beneficial for reducing symptoms and improving overall function. If you are a young adult with hip pain, chiropractors can also discuss preventive strategies– like stretching, cross training, and rest— so you can enjoy your favorite sport free of pain.
Emary P. Femoroacetabular impingement syndrome: a narrative review for the chiropractor. Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association 2010; 54(3): 164–76.
Gliedt, JA. Clinical brief: femoroacetabular impingement syndrome. Topics in Integrative Health Care 2012, Vol. 3(2) ID: 3.2004 .
Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. (2013, December 2). Don’t ignore hip pain: Impingement a growing problem among young, active. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131202152042.htm
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