FAI (Femoral Acetabular Impingement) is a condition that is caused by excessive friction in the hip joint. The hip is a ball and socket joint, and when the ball at the end of the femur and the socket in the hip rub abnormally during movement, it causes damage to the either the articular cartilage or the labral cartilage. This means that either the cushioning of the head of the femur or inside the socket part of the joint is worn away or otherwise damaged. FAI develops either a Cam or Pincer form, determined by the abnormality. Cam is associated with the head of the femur being misshapen, while Pincer describes FAI due to the socket portion of the joint covering too much of the top of the femur. FAI occurs more often in high-level athletes, although any active individual may develop the condition.
Patients with FAI typically experience pain in the groin and hips. The condition typically develops over time so patients experience increased pain severity. Also, pain is typically experienced during movement, although as the condition develops, the pain may become constant. Patients may also notice a clicking or catching sensation in the hip. It is also common for stiffness to lead to a limp, difficulty navigating stairs, and pain when transitioning from sitting to a standing position. Patients may also experience pain and discomfort when they have to sit for long periods of time, for example, during a flight.
Dr. Coleman typically takes a conservative approach to treating FAI and suggests rest and a reduction in physical activities that may aggravate the condition. In many cases, physical therapy helps address FAI. It can improve the patient’s range of motion and strengthen the core and gluteal muscles. Some patients may also benefit from a corticosteroid injection. In cases where these conservative treatments are not effective, Dr. Coleman may suggest a minimally invasive hip arthroscopy procedure to reshape the Cam and/or Pincer portions of the hip joint. During this procedure, Dr. Coleman can also repair labral tears to restore normal function.