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Femoral-Acetabular Impingement (FAI)


This is a problem with the hip joint. In a healthy hip, the ball of the femur is smooth and round. It fits perfectly into the hip socket. But with this condition, the ball, the socket or both the ball and the socket are shaped poorly. They don’t fit together well. When you move your hip, they rub together harmfully.


Femoral-Acetabular Impingement (FAI)

Causes & Triggers

FAI is caused by abnormal bone development. It happens when your bones don’t grow properly in childhood. One or more abnormal bone growths form. This creates an unevenness that restricts movement. The ball and socket rub or press against each other instead of gliding smoothly and easily.

  • Genetics/heredity (abnormal development)
  • High-level athletics

Signs & Symptoms

Symptoms include pain and stiffness in your hip. You may feel a deep ache, or your pain may be sharp. You may develop a limp.

  • Dull ache
  • Pain (especially groin, outer thigh)
  • Sharp, stabbing pain when turning, twisting, squatting

Tips & Treatment

Treatment options include medications and physical therapy. You may need to avoid activities that cause pain in your hip. If these aren’t helpful, you may benefit from surgery. Your healthcare provider can create a plan that’s right for you.

  • FAI is classified by type:
    • Pincer: bone spur extending over the acetabulum
    • Cam: bone spur on femoral head
    • Combined impingement: involves both cam and pincer bone spurs
  • While technically not caused by physical sports activities, high-level athletes and highly active individuals are often diagnosed with this condition.
  • Treatment ranges from lifestyle changes, such as reduced activity and hip strengthening therapy, to arthroscopic surgery to repair cartilage and reduce friction.

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