Causes, Symptoms And Treatments For Cartilage Damage In The Hip Joint

Cartilage damage to the hip joint often causes pain, stiffness and even loss of range of motion. Keep reading to find out why it happens and how to fix it.
Causes, symptoms and treatments for cartilage damage in the hip joint

Cartilage damage in the hip joint is a fairly common condition in athletes such as ballet dancers, football players and ice hockey players.

The labrum is a cartilage ring between the femur and the hip. It covers the outer edge of the relevant joint cavity. Thus, it helps to keep the longest leg in the body in a suitable position.

Damage to this is as common as it is severe and often requires surgery. Today’s article contains what you might want to know about cartilage damage in the hip joint and how you can prevent it.

What is cartilage damage in the hip joint?

The hip joint is a ball and a joint forehead. Furthermore, the hip joint cup (acetabulum) is the joint pan for the spherical top of the femur.

This part, shaped like a round ball, is the femoral head. There is a ring of cartilage tissue at the edge of the articular pan, the labrum. As an article in Sports Medicine Oregon points out, this structure increases joint stability.

A rupture in the labrum is damage to the cartilage tissue, and it stops performing its function properly. The femoral head loses some of its support as a consequence.

There are many causes, both acute and chronic. For example, it may be as a result of hip implantation or osteoarthritis. As mentioned above, it is quite common in athletes.

A football player catching the ball.
Some sports such as American football pose a risk factor for this type of injury.

Symptoms of cartilage damage in the hip joint

Cartilage damage to the hip joint is sometimes asymptomatic. However, Mayo Clinic specialists point out that the symptoms are more common. For example, there may be a pain in the hip that extends to the groin.

That pain worsens when you walk or continue to sit or stand. Some people experience stiffness in the hip joint as they have poor range of motion.

The joint may also squeak with certain movements in the leg or appear locked. The problem is that it can lead to complications if left untreated. In fact, it increases the likelihood of osteoarthritis over time.

Causes of cartilage damage in the hip joint

As we pointed out throughout the article, cartilage injuries in the hip joint are more common in athletes. However, there are many other reasons.

It is common in physical activities based on repetitive movements with the hip joint. This is because these types of movements can gradually wear on the joint.

Sports such as golf, ice hockey and other contact sports such as football often lead to cartilage damage in the hip joint, so they are risk factors.

According to an article from the Hospital for Special Surgery , this condition may be due to structural abnormalities. Some associated diseases are osteoarthritis and hip implantation.

The latter consists of abnormal contact between the femoral head and the hip joint cup. Therefore, it can be due to either malformation of the femur or malformation of the acetabulum. The thing is, this type of body contact wears out faster.


Diagnosis of cartilage damage in the hip joint can be complex. This is why it is important for a doctor to perform a proper examination of the joint. They will probably have to move their leg in different positions to do so.

Certain complementary examinations such as x-rays are usually necessary to rule out other injuries. This is because the image makes it possible to find a fracture or other anomaly. It is especially useful if the person has received a stroke.

However, the X-ray image does not reveal soft tissue, so a doctor must sometimes resort to magnetic resonance imaging.

Treatments for cartilage damage in the hip joint

Cartilage damage to the hip joint is difficult to treat, although the medical or physiotherapeutic approach is useful for small ruptures, it may require surgery.

Certain measures are usually recommended in all cases, regardless of whether a person is operated on or not. One of them is to lose weight – if necessary. The goal is to reduce overload of the hip joint.

When it comes to athletes, their physical activity habits need to change. The attending physician will probably advise them to reduce the intensity or try alternative forms of exercise.

Non-surgical approaches

Medical treatment seeks to relieve pain and reduce inflammation in this injury. This is why doctors usually prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Ibuprofen or naproxen are often prescribed, although some cases may require corticosteroid infiltrations.

Physiotherapy is one of the pillars of treatment, but must be done by a specialist. The idea here is to help a person restore the joint’s range of motion through specific exercises.

It also seeks to increase strength and stretch, so that the hip is more stable during physical activity.

An image processing.
Radiography is not enough, so doctors must also use other more specific types of soft tissue images, such as MRI.

Surgical treatment for cartilage damage in the hip joint

Surgery is usually one of the best options for treating severe ruptures. It is especially useful when non-surgical treatments have failed, ie when a person is unable to restore their mobility and is in pain despite medication and physiotherapy.

According to a Cleveland Clinic publication, surgery for cartilage damage in the hip joint is performed by arthroscopy. It is a minimally invasive technique performed through small incisions to introduce the necessary instruments to repair the damage.

Arthroscopy is performed on an outpatient basis, and most patients can return home the same day. The goal is to sew together the rupture or reconstruct the entire labrum. A healthy cartilage graft is necessary for reconstruction.

This procedure is minimally invasive, but there are some risks such as bleeding, infection or nerve damage.

Prevent cartilage damage in the hip joint

Recovery from cartilage damage in the hip joint is not easy. The rehabilitation time varies depending on the severity of the injury. A person will probably need crutches for a few weeks, even after surgery.

Finally, some patients do not recover completely for several months, so people need to do their best to prevent this type of injury. Strength and flexibility exercises with legs and hips are good for this purpose.

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