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Femoro-Acetabular Impingement (FAI)

FAI is a condition affecting the hip. It is most commonly seen in young people though can go undiagnosed until later life. This is where your hip has a bony deformity potentially affecting the free, normal movement of the joint. It is generally classed into two types- CAM and Pincer.

Cam deformity is where the top of your thigh bone (femur) may be between the shaft and the head. A pincer is where the socket deformity is where the socket of the hip joint may be deeper and come round in a pincer shape slightly more than is normal. Both of these limit movement and alter mechanics at the hip- causing pain. Due to the altered mechanics it can cause other issues at the hip over time, such as osteoarthritis or a labral tear.

Do I have Femoro-Acetabular Impingement?


This is most commonly found in younger people complaining of hip pain but can be found in those who are older where it has gone undiagnosed for a long time. Normally you would have reduced hip range of motion and pain in your groin or buttock. This may be worse on movements where you need to bend your hip up or cross your legs etc. You may also find your leg is slightly turned out as you walk. If your doctor or physiotherapist suspects you have FAI then it would be worth ordering imaging to confirm it.

Treatment


If your pain is severe it is worth seeing an orthopaedic surgeon to identify if surgery is warranted. Outcomes are generally good, with 70-80% of elite sportsmen/women returning to their previous level after. If your symptoms are mild you may be able to manage these with activity modification and physiotherapy.

If you have had an operation for hip impingement you will need rehabilitation in order to get you back to normal. Dependent on what the surgeon has done, you may need to keep some weight off of the operated leg for a period of time. The focus initially is usually on returning range of motion to your hip, followed by gradual strengthening and return to sport-specific training. Your surgeon will guide you on how long it will take until you are safe return to sport and your physio should advise you on when you are fit.

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