Femoroacetabular Impingement (FAI) also known as hip impingement is a problem among active and sedentary people alike.
Symptoms may include pain in the groin or hip area and restricted hip range of motion (ROM). It may be aggravated by activity (both intense and endurance types), sitting for long periods of time, operating the pedals in a car and crossing the legs.
There are 3 main types of FAI
Cam – This type of FAI occurs from a bit of extra bone on the head of the femur which then jams on the hip socket (acetabulum) during activity. This type typically occurs in young athletic men.
Pincer – This occurs more often in middle aged women and is the least common type of the 3. This type is caused by extra bone around the lip of the hip socket at the front then as the femoral head rotates it catches or jams against the extra bone.
Mixed – This is a combination of the two previous types; cam and pincer. As described above it causes a catching or jamming in the front of the joint capsule.
FAI is officially diagnosed with a x-ray that will show the bumps on the ball (femoral head) or socket (acetabulum) of the hip joint however; it’s not uncommon for healthy people to have bumps independent of pain. Pain science tells us that this could be to do with the nervous system sending ‘danger’ signals back to the brain that then ignites the whole pain process. Danger signals could potentially arise from the bones not being in the right place, the body feeling stressed or under pressure whether that be emotional, mental or physical stress, memory of past experiences such as a previous hip injury and so on.
Clinical Myotherapy or other similar interventions can be helpful for FAI. We can test if the bones are in the right place. We can test if certain muscles are pushing the ball forward in the socket, if certain muscles aren’t strong enough to help hold the ball in the right place and if there is more or less load transferring through the joint. We can test if the pain is actually referred pain from the back or due to something else going on further down the leg. Once we know what is going on we can help to send ‘calm’ signals to the brain via the nerves by using manual therapy on the muscles, motor learning correction exercises, tape to help your conscious mind understand where your bones should be and much more. We can then give you exercises to help continue the process at home or refer you to your doctor for X-rays when necessary.
I have seen 3 people with this problem in the month of January alone; it’s not as common as neck and shoulder pain but it is common enough that it could be affecting you or someone you know. Of the 3 patients I have treated 1 is now able to run pain free when before it was hurting whilst walking, 1 has increased the pain free ROM dramatically but is still having some trouble with driving the car, well on her way to a full recovery and 1 reduced their pain but not there range of motion and no abnormalities were found on X-ray, although she is very happy to not have pain anymore and we are using equipment based Pilates to slowly increase her ROM.
If you have undiagnosed groin or hip pain get it checked out because you may be suffering unnecessarily and if you have had FAI please feel free to share your experiences, we’d love to hear about it and I’m sure everyone else would too! Happy Thursday everyone!