Healthy Blog

Labral Tear of the Hip – Why Physiotherapy is Essential for Recovery

Monday, November 30, 2015

A labral tear of the hip happens when the labrum cartilage, the connective tissue within the hip joint, is damaged by over-use, trauma or the ageing process. 

Signs and symptoms

  • A pop or crack sound at the time of injury
  • Pain in the groin, hip or lower back.
  • The hip feels weak or unstable and may click or lock
  • In minor cases symptoms may develop gradually over a few days
  • In severe cases extreme pain and restriction of hip movement
  • Limping and unable to bear weight owing to pain

Diagnosis

An examination from a physiotherapist is usually sufficient to diagnose a labral tear. X-ray and MRI are often used to confirm the diagnosis and assess how bad the tear is.

Physiotherapy Treatment

It’s absolutely vital that you rest completely until you’re free of pain.  Anti-inflammatory/painkillers help a lot during the first 3 days to reduce pain and swelling.  Some minor tears heal well with physiotherapy treatment only, but surgery may be necessary to prevent hip osteoarthritis.  

Physiotherapy treatment is essential to speed up the healing process – both before and after any necessary surgery. After surgery, physiotherapy is the key to getting back as much flexibility and strength as possible.

Flexibility and strength  

The physio will prescribe flexibility and strengthening exercises as part of your rehabilitation to ensure the best outcome.  In the final stages of rehabilitation, the physiotherapist will devise an individual plan to ease you back into your normal activities and sport safely.  Returning to activity too soon or without enough physiotherapy often leads to further injury and inflammation.

Physiotherapy for a labral tear of the hip includes these effective methods:

  • Soft tissue massage
  • Joint mobilization
  • Stretches
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Heat treatment
  • Progressive exercises to improve flexibility, balance and strength
  • A gradual return to activity program

Prognosis

The success rate for treatment of a labral tear of the hip depends on how carefully you follow the physiotherapy exercise plan.   Physio treatment for minor labral tears usually allows you return to daily activity and sport in about 2 – 6 weeks. 

Minor tears that require surgery allow you to return to light activity in 4 – 8 weeks, whilst continuing physiotherapy.  Moderate to severe cases will need a longer course of physio exercises, but if you follow the exercise plan the prognosis for complete recovery is good.