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Physical therapy for femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) often times involves:

  • Bettering hip range of motion (ROM) and strength
  • Decreasing pain
  • And improving overall functional mobility.

If you have FAI, your local Palmdale Physical Therapist can guide you in the proper rehab program to aid in returning you to your routine activities.

There are a variety of causes of hip pain. If your hip or hips hurt, you may benefit from physical therapy, which will often times help you determine the cause of your pain and get started on the ideal treatment.

A visit to your doctor can help in figuring out what may be causing your hip pain. In addition, your doctor may perform special diagnostic tests which may end with a diagnosis of FAI. If that is ends up being the scenario, a referral to your local Palmdale Physical Therapist may be warranted.

Understanding What Is FAI

Femoroacetabular impingement happens when an area of your hip joint becomes pinched when you move in specific directions. Your hip is a ball and socket joint, and sometimes the ball portion (the top end of your femur) of your hip gets pinched in the socket portion (the acetabulum).

As a result, this pinching can cause pain and limited motion, and it may limit your ability to perform your day to day work and recreational activities.

Symptoms of FAI may include:

  • Pain in your groin
  • Pain in the front of your hip
  • Lower back pain and buttock pain
  • Decreased motion in your hip, especially in rotation and extension
  • Weak feeling in your hip
  • Difficulty performing running, jumping, and cutting motions

If your doctor thinks that your symptoms are caused by FAI, he or she may perform x-rays or an MRI. These studies typically show the shape of your hip joints and assist in figuring out if FAI is causing your hip pain.

Caution should be taken here — some patients with no pain or symptoms show signs of FAI on imaging studies. Your diagnosis should include a thorough evaluation of your clinic presentation and finding on diagnostic studies.

Types of Hip Impingement With FAI

There are mainly two types of hip FAI — pincer impingement and cam impingement. You can also have a combination of both types.

Cam impingement happens because of an abnormal shape of your femoral head—the ball of the joint. This often times creates a situation where stress is placed upon the bone with certain motions. 

Pincer impingement happens because of an abnormal shape of your socket, called the acetabulum. A combination of both types may also occur. Your doctor can help you figure out which type of FAI you have and the best treatment for your hip pain.

Both types of hip FAI can cause damage to your hip labrum, a piece of tissue that courses around your hip socket. This can lead to fraying and hip labrum tearing, causing pain and limited hip motion. Hip FAI may also cause early hip osteoarthritis.

Physical Therapy Evaluation for FAI

Components of a thorough physical therapy evaluation for FAI may include:

  • Palpation
  • Measures of range of motion of your spine, hips, knees, and ankles
  • Measures of hip and lower extremity strength
  • Hip special tests
  • Functional assessment
  • Balance and proprioception assessment

When you first meet with your Physical Therapist, he or she will ask you questions about your hip pain and how it acts.

  • What makes it better or worse?
  • How does your hip pain from FAI limit your overall functional mobility or work and recreational activities?

What have you done so far in terms of diagnosis and treatment? The conversation you have with your local Palmdale Physical Therapist should be relaxed; both of you are working together in a therapeutic alliance to help better your overall condition with FAI.

After the evaluation, your Physical Therapist will work with you to establish a plan of care for treating your FAI, and treatment can start.

Physical Therapy Treatment for FAI

The goals of Physical Therapy for FAI is to help improve overall hip, spine, and lower extremity ROM and strength and to decrease pain so you can return to optimal mobility. An assortment of treatments will happen in Physical Therapy to help accomplish those goals.

Physical therapy treatment for hip FAI may include an assortment of components:

Exercise should be your main tool in the treatment for FAI. Your local Palmdale Physical Therapist can devise an appropriate and specific exercise program for your specific condition. Exercises for FAI may include:

  • Hip stretching
  • Hamstring stretching and quadriceps stretches
  • Hip strengthening
  • Balance and proprioception exercises
  • Abdominal strengthening exercises

You may perform exercises when you go to the local Palmdale Physical Therapy clinic, and your therapist may prescribe individual exercises for you to do at home as part of a home exercise program.

Physical modalities: Your Palmdale Physical Therapist may use an assortment of physical modalities to help treat your pain or improve your muscular function. These may include:

  • Ultrasound
  • Electrical stimulation
  • Heat
  • Ice
  • Kinesiology taping

Remember, many of these treatments are not supported by rigorous scientific study; they may not contribute significantly to your overall mobility and restoration of function. Furthermore, many of these treatments are passive; you do nothing while your Physical Therapist applies the treatment to you. Active involvement through exercises and movement is always the best treatment for your hip FAI.

Neuromuscular training: Another great treatment strategy for hip FAI is neuromuscular training. Sounds a but complex, but neuromuscular training is simply performing movements and exercises correctly, so your back, hips, and knees are in the correct alignment when performing activities such as running, jumping, or squatting.

Your local Palmdale Physical Therapist may have you perform various motions at various speeds, with a special focus on the positioning of your body while moving. He or she may teach you to jump and land the right way and may work on specific balance and proprioception exercises.

The main goal is keeping your hips and lower extremities in the best position possible to keep maximize movement while minimizing excessive stress and strain.