Hip Impingement (Femoral Acetabular Impingement)

As one of the nation’s Best Children’s Hospitals in pediatric orthopedics, Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare has one of the country’s largest groups of pediatric orthopedic specialists. We provide comprehensive diagnoses and treatment for hip impingement in infants, children and teens. Our in-depth knowledge, offered in a family-centered environment, helps patients minimize pain and improve joint mobility.

Why Choose Gillette?

  • Gillette is one of the nation’s Best Children’s Hospitals in pediatric orthopedics.
  • Our specialists are experts in diagnosing and treating hip impingement
  • Our coordinated approach often lets patients see a team of specialists during a single visit at one location.
  • Our goal is to help patients resolve their hip issues early—and, when possible, without surgery—so they can participate in a full, active life.
  • We believe that clinical research and outcomes-based medicine promote the highest standards of care.

Definition

Hip impingement (femoral acetabular impingement) develops from abnormal contact between the top of the thigh bone (femoral head) and the outside of the hip socket (acetabulum). The abnormal contact, typically caused by bony deformities, leads to friction that wears away cartilage and the joint’s fibrous seal (labrum).


Types of Hip Impingement

Patients who have hip impingement have one or a combination of the following deformities of the hip joint.

  • Cam impingement: Cam impingement is caused by a deformity of the ball at the top of the thigh bone (femoral head). The abnormally shaped part of the ball comes into direct contact with the hip socket (acetabulum) with certain hip movement.
  • Pincer impingement: Pincer impingement is a deformity of the acetabulum. It occurs when the rim of the acetabulum comes in direct contact with the femoral head because the acetabulum is either too deep or in an abnormal position.
  • Mixed impingement: A combination of cam and pincer deformities.

Hip Impingement Symptoms and Effects

Patients who have hip impingement might experience the following symptoms:
• Hip, thigh or groin discomfort
• Inflexibility or stiffness of the hip joint
• Pain in the hip, groin or lower back that occurs during activity or when the hip is flexed
• A clicking, locking or snapping sensation in the hip joint

Symptoms of hip impingement often develop during adolescence and gradually become more noticeable with age. If left untreated, the condition can lead to osteoarthritis of the hip.


Hip Impingement Incidence, Causes and Risk Factors

The exact cause of hip impingement is unknown. In some cases, participation in rigorous physical activities can lead to hip impingement. In addition, conditions such as Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease and slipped capital femoral epiphysis (SCFE) can cause changes or deformities to the hip joint, leading to hip impingement.


Hip Impingement Tests and Treatment

At Gillette, our goal is to diagnose and treat hip impingement as soon as possible to prevent additional damage to the hip joint. Our specialists diagnose hip impingement using a combination of tests, including a physical examination and a review of the patient’s medical history.

Tests used to diagnose hip impingement might also include:

  • X-ray: to show irregularities in the hip joint
  • CT scan or MRI: to provide a more detailed view of the upper femur and acetabulum and display the amount of cartilage damage.

Treatments for hip impingement might include the following.

Medication

We might prescribe anti-inflammatory or pain-relieving medication. In some cases, patients might benefit from an intra-articular injection containing an anti-inflammatory steroid medication.

Physical Therapy

We might recommend physical therapy to stretch joints and strengthen muscles, which helps improve mobility and range of motion.

Limiting Activities

Sometimes we’ll suggest modifying a child’s activities to prevent further damage to the hip joint.

Surgery

If the above treatments aren’t effective, surgery sometimes is needed. Specialists might perform arthroscopic or open surgery, depending on the type of hip impingement and the severity of the damage to cartilage.


Hip Impingement Services

Gillette offers comprehensive services for patients who have hip impingement. Our experts collaborate to develop custom treatment plans for every patient. Because we offer access to a variety of experts, we make it easier for patients, families and providers to select the best treatments for each situation.

In addition to receiving care from our experts in Orthopedics, patients who have hip impingement might also receive care from staff in:

Gillette patients also can receive services for conditions associated with hip impingement, such as Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease and slipped capital femoral epiphysis (SCFE). Our goal is to help patients achieve their highest possible levels of health, independence and happiness.
For more about our comprehensive services at Gillette, search Conditions and Care.