Femoroacetabular impingement or FAI is a condition where there is unwanted contact between abnormally shaped parts of the head of the thigh bone and socket. Basically, the ball (femoral head) and socket (acetabulum) rub abnormally creating damage to the hip joint. Damage can occur to the articular cartilage (smooth white surface of the ball or socket) or the labral cartilage (soft tissue bumper of the socket).
FAI generally has two types:
Often the Cam and Pincer forms exist together i.e. mixed impingement. FAI is associated with cartilage damage, labral tears, early hip arthritis, hypermobility, sports hernias, and low back pain. It is common in high level athletes, but also occurs in active individuals.
Non-surgical treatment should always be considered first when treating impingement. This condition can often be resolved with rest, modifying activity behaviour to adapt to change in hip structure, physical therapy input and/or appropriate painkillers. Conservative treatment can be successful in reducing pain and swelling in the joint, thus reducing symptoms.
The physiotherapist may use mobilisations and manual therapy to compliment the exercise programme. Hydrotherapy would be beneficial. Your physiotherapist will closely monitor your personal programme and adjust it to suit you as appropriate.
Physiotherapy is a conservative and often a very helpful method of restoring improved movement, strength and function and thus avoiding surgical intervention.
We believe that commitment to a rehabilitation programme monitored closely by an experienced physiotherapist provides the best chance of improvement and therefore avoidance of surgical intervention.
Mobilizing the hip joint and stretching are essential components of the treatment program. This direct mobilisation of the hip performed by the physiotherapist can provide significant improvements in hip mobility in a relatively short space of time.
It is important to strengthen the gluteal muscles and deep hip rotator muscles of the buttocks. Additionally the abdominal and thigh muscles benefit from strengthening because weakness of these muscle groups means the hip joint has reduced support causing excessive force/strain to be placed on the ligaments/joint capsule and cartilage of the joint.