Right now, you may have many questions: How serious is hip impingement? What’s the best treatment? What do we do next? We’ve provided some answers to your questions on this site. Our hip experts can answer other questions you may have when you meet with us.
Background: The normal hip joint
The hip joint is one of the body's most reliable structures, providing most people with movement and support without pain or problems for a lifetime. The hip’s simple ball-and-socket anatomy—with the ball-shaped femoral head rotating inside a cup-shaped socket called the acetabulum—usually works well with little friction and little or no wear.
The surfaces of the femoral head and acetabulum, which face each other, are lined with a layer of cartilage and lubricated by a thin fluid film.
What is hip impingement?
Hip impingement occurs when bony deformities disturb the hip’s smooth gliding motions. This causes friction between the thigh bone (femur) and the hip socket (acetabulum). This friction can wear away the cartilage and also damage the labrum. The labrum is the joint’s fibrous seal, which is the cushion that lines the hip joint.
How common is hip impingement?
Hip impingement is essentially a wear-and-tear condition, affecting about 20 percent of the total population. It’s more common among younger athletes—especially those in sports requiring turning, twisting and squatting motions—and physically active people.
Who is at risk for hip impingement?
Children, teens and adults may develop hip impingement from repetitive activities, although they may have been born with a genetic predisposition.
Hip impingement is somewhat common among teen and young adult athletes. Young athletes with the condition may experience pain sooner than their less active peers.
What causes hip impingement?
Hip impingement is caused by the abnormal development of the bones of the hip joint that ultimately causes damage to the joint’s cartilage.
Deformities of the femur bone (cam impingement), acetabulum (pincer impingement) or a combination of the two abnormalities can cause hip impingement:
- Pincer impingement occurs when there is direct contact between the femur bone head-neck junction and the acetabular rim.
- Cam impingement is caused by a squeezing or jamming of an abnormally shaped thigh bone head (femoral head) and head-neck junction into the socket (acetabulum) during certain types of motion.
Hip impingement also can be caused by other conditions, including slipped capital femoral epiphysis (SCFE), a misshapen thigh bone head, an abnormally tilted femoral (thigh bone) head or post-traumatic deformities.
What are the signs and symptoms of hip impingement?
Signs and symptoms of hip impingement can include:
- stiffness in the groin or front of the thigh
- inability to flex the hip beyond a right angle
- pain in the groin during/after the hip has been flexed, such as running, jumping or prolonged sitting
Early diagnosis of hip impingement allows caregivers to start treatment sooner, preventing further damage. Our goal is to diagnose hip impingement as early as possible, which provides the best chance for successful recovery and return to full activities, including sports.
How does Boston Children’s care for patients with hip impingement?
Boston Children’s hip specialists are global leaders in hip care and offer unique expertise caring for teens and young adults with hip conditions. Although we’re recognized for our expertise in treating patients with complex hip conditions, we offer compassionate care and state-of-the-art treatment to every patient regardless of the severity of their hip problems.
How does Boston Children’s support my family?
Boston Children’s supports families in many ways.
Teen Advisory Committee
To help teenagers take a more proactive role in their care and to have their needs recognized, Boston Children’s developed the Teen Advisory Committee. The group—made up of current patients, ages 14 to 21—serves as a team of peers who can listen to other patients’ needs and ensure that their voices are heard.
Center for Families
You may find a hospital visit stressful. We offer services to make your child's—and your own—hospital experience as pleasant as possible. Visit the Center for Families for all you need to know about:
- getting to Boston Children's
- navigating the hospital experience
- resources that are available for your family
The hip care team at Boston Children’s can connect you with resources to help you and your family cope, including:
- patient education: From doctor's appointments to treatment to follow-up, our nurses and physical therapists will walk you through diagnosis, surgery and recovery. After you return home, we'll help you coordinate care and support.
- parent-to-parent: Do you want to talk with someone who has been treated for a hip impingement? Our Orthopedic Center can often put you in touch with other families who've been through the same experience.
- faith-based support: If you're in need of spiritual support, we'll connect you with the Boston Children's chaplaincy. Our program includes nearly a dozen clergy—representing Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, Catholic and other faith traditions—who will listen to you, pray with you and help you observe your own faith practices during your hospital experience.
- social work: Our social workers and mental health clinicians have helped many other families in your situation. We can offer counseling and assistance with issues such as coping with your child's diagnosis, handling stresses related to coping with illness and dealing with financial issues.