What is Anterior Hip Impingement?

Anterior Hip Impingement or Femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) is a condition where the bones of the hip are abnormally shaped. Because they do not fit together perfectly, the hip bones rub against each other and can cause irritation to the joint.

In our opinion, it is one of the more commonly misdiagnosed conditions when it comes to the hip. Probably the main reason for this is the symptoms particularly in the more mild cases can be vague, nondescript or difficult to pin point. They can range from anterior hip pain, reduced range of motion, low back pain or even a vague pain in the knee.

FAI will generally affect younger to middle age adults and occurs when the head of the femur (thigh bone) rubs abnormally in in the acetabulum (hip socket).

Generally there are three types:

  • Cam type impingement
    • This is where there is a change to the head of the femur causing it to jam into the acetabulum. It is generally more common in younger men.
  • Pincer type impingement
    • This is where there is an increase in the size of the rim of the acetabulum causing it to pinch down on soft tissue when the hip is flexed. This is more common in middle aged women and generally less common
  • Mixed type impingement
    • As the name suggests this is effectively a combination of the above two.

What should be done?

Now that’s a good question! Both conservative (non-surgical) and surgical can be quite effective in regards to management, dependent on severity.

In our opinion it will depend on a few questions:

  • How badly does it affect your day-to-day life?
  • Are you able to change the way you’re doing things to get around it?
  • Are you an athlete or have an occupation in which it affects your ability to perform?
  • Has conservative management been successful before?

From here we can figure out what to do. If you find there is significant impact to how you go about your day-to-day life or if conservative management has been tried and failed it may very well be time to have a chat to an orthopaedic surgeon to see if you’re a candidate for surgery.

If not, manual therapy and exercise rehabilitation with a focus on mobility, hip and core muscle strength and general stability/balance training may very well be an appropriate mode of management.

In summary, surgery or conservative management are good options for Anterior Hip Impingement or FAI issues. However with that in mind though, more significant cases are more likely to be resolved by a trip to the surgeon.

If you’re experiencing pain at the front of your hip, more so on hip flexion (bringing knee to chest) and want to know what to do about it, feel free to pop on down to our Dural clinic or give us a call on 02 9651 1395.

Because your health matters!