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FAI is a common cause of hip pain in young adults. It can occur due to thickening of the femoral neck (CAM deformity), bony overgrowth of the edge of the acetabular socket (Pincer deformity) or both.

These bony deformities lead to conflict between bone and soft tissues. The repetitive conflicts can injure the joint cartilage, tear the labrum that surrounds the socket and over time this damage can lead to hip arthritis.

The initial treatment is usually an exercise therapy led program to strengthen the deep gluteal muscles that support the hip joint. Some patients require hip arthroscopy which is a keyhole surgery.

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FAI is a common cause of hip pain in young adults. It can occur due to thickening of the femoral neck (CAM deformity), bony overgrowth of the edge of the acetabular socket (Pincer deformity) or both.

These bony deformities lead to conflict between bone and soft tissues. The repetitive conflicts can injure the joint cartilage, tear the labrum that surrounds the socket and over time this damage can lead to hip arthritis.

The Cam and Pincer deformities that lead to the impingement are mostly something you are born with. Some people have a childhood disease or conditions such as a hip dysplasia, slipped capital femoral epiphysis or Perthes disease that can lead to impingement. 

Most people with FAI describe a sharp, catching pain in the groin especially when twisting or flexing their hip right up. Over time, the hip joint can become stiff so you're less able to bend or rotate it. 

Over time the groin pain can become more of a dull ache. 

A GP, physiotherapist or specialist can diagnose FAI by asking about your injury and examining your hip.

The diagnosis of FAI can be made on x-rays and they are important for planning management but most patients also need an MRI. The MRI shows whether you have a tear in the labrum, cartilage damage or early arthritis. 

The pain from FAI will often get better on its own with time, so your surgeon will usually recommend nonsurgical treatment at first. This may include specific physiotherapy, resting from provocative activities, and anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen, diclofenac or meloxicam for 1 to 2 weeks. **Please check with your doctor or specialist that these medicines are safe for you first.

A CT-guided injection of local anaesthetic and corticosteroid can help settle inflammation within the hip.

If the pain is severe or prolonged enough to warrant surgery, your surgeon will discuss which option is most suitable for you. This depends on many factors, including:

  • Your age
  • Your functional goals (including job and hobbies)
  • The shape of your hip’s ball and socket
  • Other abnormalities in the hip joint (such as arthritis).

In broad terms, the options include hip preservation surgery or hip replacement surgery. Procedures that may be offered under the hip preservation umbrella include:

  • Hip arthroscopy (keyhole surgery)
  • Periacetabular osteotomy (reorientation of the hip socket)
  • Surgical hip dislocation

See all Hip Conditions

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