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What is Femoroacetabular Impingement (FAI)?

Femoralacetabular Impingement (FAI)

By Laurence Schubert APAM

What is Femoralacetabular Impingement (FAI)?

What is it?

Femoroacetabular Impingement (FAI), is a condition that develops in the socket of the hip causing pain during certain movements. The hip is a ball and socket joint, and when the joint surfaces become irregular then it can result in FAI or other painful hip injuries.


What are the symptoms?

Sharp pain will typically occur during certain end of range movements of the hip. Most notably during flexion, internal rotation and adduction. Pain can occur following heavy bouts of exercise and the hip may ache or be very irritated. Other than pain, you may experience feelings of stiffness, decreased power and poor control of the hip and leg.


Who is likely to have it?

FAI most commonly affects athletic young men, and those who participate in frequent explosive sports such as football and basketball. The condition can occur in anyone, but generally radiographic changes can be seen in young men from as young as 13 years old.


What causes it?

Repetitive and sheering forces over time slowly cause irritation and damage to the hip joint. The hip joint should move smoothly within the socket, but when it doesn’t it causing inflammation and pain. As the impingement progresses, osteophyte formation (bone growth) will worsen the injury. Eventually, leading to an incongruent joint where the hip cannot move smoothly. Other causes include genetics, which can increase the likelihood of this disease.


Can it be treated?

Absolutely it can! In severe cases there is the option of a minimally invasive surgery called hip arthroscopy, which has favourable outcomes for up to 10 years for less severe cases that don’t already have chondral damage. However, most cases of FAI can be managed conservatively. Physiotherapy assessment will be the best way to identify major causative factors. This may include range of motion deficiencies, increased tightness in muscles and impaired control of lower limb. Physiotherapy will therefore aim to address these impairments through manual therapy (massage, and mobilisation) as well as targeted exercise programming/modification.

If you have any further questions about FAI, please contact us or book online for an appointment

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