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Labral tear

If cartilage and tissue in the hip socket gets damaged, this is called a labral tear, or acetabular labral tear.

Women are more likely to experience labral tears of the hip than men.

Labral tears are also more likely with hip dysplasia and some other conditions.

Left untreated, this can cause lasting damage to the hip joint.


A labral tear of the hip may be caused by falls, injuries from accidents or general wear and tear, including doing sports with a lot of hip rotation, such as golf swings.


Not everyone will get symptoms of a labral tear, but symptoms include:

  • Pain - in the groin, upper leg, and/or buttock
  • Leg clicking or 'catching'.


Doctors will begin to diagnose an acetabular labral tear based on the person's symptoms, medical history, and any likely causes, such as sports played or being involved in an accident.

A physical examination may be carried out, and tests arranged to help with the diagnosis, or to rule out other possible causes.

A referral to a specialist may be arranged for further assessment and tests.

Tests for labral tears include:

  • MRI scan
  • Arthroscopy, where a special instrument is inserted into the hip joint under traction (gently pulling the joint apart) to look inside. Some repairs are also possible with the arthoscope device.


Treatment for an acetabular labral tear will depend on individual circumstances, but may include:

  • Painkillers
  • Rest
  • Physiotherapy
  • Building muscle strength
  • Learning ways to keep pressure off the hip joint
  • Arthroscopic keyhole surgery under general anaesthetic to repair or remove torn tissue.

The pros and cons of treatment approaches will be discussed before going ahead, including time spent in hospital, time off work, recovery and rehabilitation.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on September 14, 2016

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