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How to Treat a Hip Labral Tear

by Patty Weasler, RN March 23, 2022 0 Comments

tightening groin brace

Hip pain that gets worse when you bend, rotate your hip, or exercise are all signs of a hip labral tear. Treatment is necessary when hip pain worsens after sitting or standing for long periods of time. You also might feel a clicking sensation within your hip. Hip labral treatment typically starts with conservative treatment that aims to lessen the pain; however, surgery is often recommended to remove the damaged tissue and repair the labrum. Here are the best ways to reduce pain from hip labral tears and when you should consider surgery.

Treatment for Minor Tears

Your labrum is what protects the femoral head and the acetabulum in the hip’s ball-and-socket joint. Treating a minor tear can start off conservatively with rest, medication, or ice. While nonsurgical treatment won’t fix or heal the hip labrum it is a good place to start to lessen your pain and swelling.

  • Rest from Activity

    When you have a hip labral tear it’s time to stop playing sports, slow down at work, and take a rest. Avoid movements and activities that cause hip pain. Resting will give your body time to recover and let the swelling decrease in your hip joint. If you have a hard time stopping certain activities or tasks talk to a friend or family member who can step in to take over while you let your hip heal.

  • Hot & Cold Application

    A hip labral tear can hurt! Applying cold and heat can help soothe that pain making daily activities more bearable. Cold therapy with the use of an ice pack or another source works by numbing pain and reducing swelling. The cold interrupts the pain signal to minimize pain. It also constricts the blood vessels within the area, this discourages fluid build-up that leads to swelling.

    Alternating Hot & Cold Therapy

    Heat works very differently but is the perfect complementary therapy to ice. Heat encourages blood flow to the injured area. This brings oxygen and nutrients to the soft tissue which can speed up healing. The downside to heat is that it can cause more injury swelling. So don’t use heat for the first few days after you’ve injured your hip to avoid excess bruising and swelling.

    When to Use Heat Therapy

  • Exercises

    When you have regained your hip’s range of motion and have less pain it might be time to start exercising. Before you begin, get yourself cleared by your physical therapist or doctor. Exercise will focus on balancing your muscle strength and supporting your hip joint while promoting blood flow to the area. Stop exercising if you are feeling hip pain.

    Effective hip labral tear exercises

  • Physical Therapy

    There are several hip abnormalities that can cause a hip labral tear. Femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) is the most common cause. Injuries and osteoarthritis as the other two leading causes. A physical therapist can guide you through recovery from any of these three causes. They will develop a treatment plan focused on strengthening specific muscle groups, increasing hip stability, and show you which movements to avoid. If you do require surgery for your tear, a physical therapist will also guide you through rehab after your surgery to ensure you regain strength and range of motion.

    Physical Therapy or Hip Labral Tear - What to Expect

  • Compression & Support

    Another non-invasive treatment option is to incorporate compression and support with an elastic sports wrap or brace. The brace will support the hip, muscles, and tendons to give you some relief from the pain. The support the brace provides will also work to prevent re-injury. Look for a brace that is fully adjustable to take into account any swelling you may experience after your injury.

  • Anti-Inflammatories

    A torn labrum is an injury that ranges from zero to severe pain. If you do have some pain then taking an anti-inflammatory medication can take the edge off of the pain. Medications like ibuprofen (Advil) and naproxen (Aleve) are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These medications don’t require a prescription and are generally well-tolerated. Always talk to your doctor or pharmacist before you start taking a new medication to avoid any unintended side effects.

More Severe Labrum Tears

Unfortunately, many people have a severe labrum tear that will require medical intervention. The silver lining is that there are very successful procedures available to treat the tear to get you back to enjoying all of your favorite activities.

  • Injections for Pain

    If conservative treatment isn’t successful your doctor may suggest an injection of a local anesthetic called an intra-articular injection, that goes into the hip joint. This injection will numb the pain. Another option is adding a steroid injection which will reduce the swelling within the joint. Both types of injections won’t cure the labrum tear but will improve your symptoms.

  • Arthroscopic Surgery

    The one true way to fix a hip labral tear is through hip surgery. There are several types of surgical procedures that can be performed and yours will depend upon the severity of your tear. Thankfully, most surgeries are done arthroscopically, which involves small incisions that allow the orthopedic surgeon to view the hip and perform the labral repair. Recovery after hip arthroscopy will depend upon how much damage there was to the labrum, the patient’s age, and overall health. In most cases, bearing weight is restricted during the first 4 to 6 weeks, with lessened restrictions after that. Follow your doctor’s orders regarding your recovery.

The Right Recovery Plan

Treatment for a minor hip labral tear can begin at home with rest, ice, heat, and medications. When the pain has subsided and you have physician clearance you can begin an exercise program to regain any lost strength and mobility. If you do not find relief with home treatments or have a significant tear then your doctor may suggest surgery to fix the tear. Always follow your doctor’s advice and go to your follow-up appointments to ensure your hip is healing as it should.


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Patty Weasler, RN
Patty Weasler, RN

Patty Weasler is a freelance health writer and nurse. She is certified in critical care nursing and has been practicing for over 10 years. Patty lives in Milwaukee, WI with her husband and three children. She enjoys spending her time with family and educating people about their health.

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