Hip Impingement Physiotherapy: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Hip Impingement Physiotherapy: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Hip Pain Physiotherapy

Hip impingement, or femoroacetabular impingement (FAI), occurs when there is an abnormal contact between the bones of your hip joint, leading to pain and reduced mobility. This condition can arise from a variety of factors, including the shape of your hip bones, repetitive movements which bring your joint to the extremes of its range, or underlying developmental conditions. The discomfort and limitations it causes often lead individuals to seek effective management strategies.

FAI syndrome is a motion-related clinical diagnosis of the hip that represents symptomatic contact between the proximal femur and the acetabulum.⁣

Physiotherapy stands out as an integral part of treating hip impingement, offering a non-invasive approach to alleviate your symptoms and improve your quality of life. Through tailored exercises and guidance from a licensed physiotherapist, you can work on restoring hip joint function, increase your range of motion, and reduce the pain associated with hip impingement.

If you’re grappling with hip impingement and eager to start on a path toward recovery, consider reaching out to the experts at Vangool Wellness in Saskatoon. Their clinical experience and dedication to patient care can provide the support and treatment necessary to navigate this condition effectively.

Understanding Hip Impingement

Femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) is characterized by pain and limited mobility caused by contact between the femoral head and the acetabulum. Here, we’ll explore the hip’s anatomy, the types of impingement you might encounter, and factors that can increase your risk of developing this condition.

Anatomy of the Hip

Your hip is a ball-and-socket joint where the rounded femoral head (the “ball”) fits into the acetabulum (the “socket”). This design allows for a wide range of movement. The socket is lined with cartilage and has a rim of softer tissue called the labrum, which provides a seal and support for the joint.

Types of Impingement

There are three morphologies of the femoroacetabular joint associated with FAI syndrome: cam, pincer, and mixed. ⁣

1️⃣A cam-type morphology has an aspherical femoral head due to adventitious bone formation along the head-neck junction of the femur. This morphology results in impingement of the superior acetabulum with hip flexion and internal rotation. ⁣

2️⃣A pincer-type morphology, commonly associated with acetabular retroversion, results from the overcoverage of the femoral head. ⁣

3️⃣A mixed-type morphology has both cam and pincer morphologies, which is more common than either in isolation.⁣

Causes and Risk Factors

Several factors can contribute to the development of hip impingement, including:

  • Bone Structure Abnormalities: Conditions like hip dysplasia or slipped capital femoral epiphysis can alter the hip anatomy, increasing FAI risk.
  • Genetic Predispositions: Your genetic makeup may predispose you to hip structure irregularities or ligmentous laxity which then allows you to get into the extreme ends of your range of motion.
  • Repetitive Movements: Athletes or those with occupations requiring repetitive hip movements may experience higher FAI risks.

Understanding these elements can help you better grasp the mechanics behind hip impingement and its potential causes, guiding you toward seeking the most effective treatments.

Diagnosis and Symptoms

Diagnosis of Hip Impingement When you’re experiencing discomfort in your hip area, it’s crucial to get a proper diagnosis. Your journey starts with a detailed medical history and a thorough physical examination. During the assessment, your healthcare provider will inquire about your hip pain and other related symptoms as well as evaluate your hip’s range of motion.

Imaging tests play a pivotal role in diagnosing hip impingement. X-rays can reveal abnormalities in the shape of your hip bones, while a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) may be necessary to view soft tissue and cartilage damage or investigate factors such as joint angles. In some cases, a Computed Tomography (CT) scan might also be employed to provide a more detailed structural view.

Symptoms to Watch For

  • Hip pain and groin pain are common indicators of hip impingement.
  • You might notice a decrease in your hip’s range of motion or feel stiffness.
  • Activities like walking, sitting for long periods, or bending may intensify the discomfort.

When addressing your symptoms, it’s important to consider their frequency and the activities that trigger them. Early recognition and diagnosis are key to managing hip impingement effectively and preventing further joint damage. If you’re experiencing any persistent symptoms, it’s advised to consult healthcare professionals knowledgeable about hip impingement. They can guide you on the next steps towards managing your condition and improving your hip health.

Physiotherapy Management

Physiotherapy plays a critical role in managing hip impingement, focusing on tailored exercise programs and rehabilitation strategies to improve hip function both before and after surgery, if required.

Before and After Surgery

Prior to surgery, a physiotherapy treatment plan aims to strengthen your hip, improve range of motion, and enhance balance and flexibility to prepare for the operation. Exercises and neuromuscular training target the muscles around your hip joint, fostering improved proprioception, or the sense of joint position, which is crucial for preventing further injuries.

Post-surgery, your physiotherapist will guide you through a structured recovery protocol. It begins with gentle movements to gradually restore hip range of motion, progressing to specific exercises that focus on rebuilding hip strength, balance, and flexibility. 

Exercise and Rehabilitation

Your exercise and rehabilitation program will be tailored to your individual needs with an aim to restore function, minimize pain, and prevent future complications. Your physiotherapist may use:

  • Isometric exercises: These are static exercises where the muscle doesn’t visibly move but tension is applied, helping to maintain muscle strength without straining the hip joint.
  • Dynamic exercises: These involve movement and help improve strength and control, often mimicking everyday activities or specific sports movements.
  • Stretching routines: To improve flexibility and range of motion.

Additionally, neuromuscular education exercises are crucial to improve the control you have over your hip joint, which includes your body’s ability to respond to changes in environment and activity. It encompasses both proprioceptive training and balance exercises.

Rehabilitation programs often incorporate functional exercises that simulate your daily or sporting activities to ensure a safe and effective return to full activity. 

Remember, your compliance and commitment to the customized exercise program are vital for a successful outcome in managing your hip impingement through physiotherapy.

Lifestyle and Prevention

Managing hip impingement often involves more than just medical treatments; your daily habits and activities play a significant role. By modifying your routines and incorporating preventive strategies, you can actively contribute to the management of your condition and possibly reduce the risk of further injury.

Daily Activities & Modifications

Prolonged Sitting: If your job involves extended periods of sitting, make sure to take regular breaks to stand and walk around. Consider using an ergonomic chair that allows you to sit in a position of hip flexion that is below the degree that you are symptomatic. Saddle or kneeling chairs can be a great option.

  • Running/Jumping: High-impact activities like running and jumping can exacerbate hip pain, so you may need to switch to lower-impact exercises such as swimming or cycling for a period of time while you work on strength/stability.

Align your activities with the management of your hip impingement; remember that small changes can make a big difference.

Preventive Strategies

For Athletes: If you’re an athlete, focus on exercises that strengthen the muscles around your hip joint. This not only helps in symptom management but may also prevent further injury. Consult with a physical therapist who can tailor a program specifically to your needs.

  • Incorporate appropriate flexibility, soft tissue work and strength training into your routine to maintain a balanced musculature.
  • Be mindful of your body’s signals; rest when necessary to avoid overexertion.

Your active participation through these lifestyle modifications is crucial for effective management and prevention of hip impingement.


The fact is we are still learning how to BEST manage FAI’s. We know what to avoid and how to adapt but because of the variability of the issue, we can not definitely say that a certain group of muscles will always be weaker.

Testing is REALLY important with this cohort.

Exercise and rehab prescriptions must be well planned in order to provide patients with the best chance of recovery.

Additionally, if you’re dealing with hip pain or suspected femoroacetabular impingement syndrome, engaging in guided physical therapy will likely be beneficial. Your regimen should be tailored to your individual needs.

Should you experience chronic hip pain or symptoms of hip impingement, consider reaching out to a professional. Proper diagnosis and early treatment are key to improving outcomes.

For those in the Saskatoon area, Vangool Wellness offers a range of services designed to address hip pain and improve mobility. They can provide personalized care plans to support your recovery.

Remember, you don’t have to accept hip pain as a part of life. Help is available, and you can take steps to enhance your hip function. It’s important to consult with healthcare professionals to get a treatment plan that’s right for you.

Key Takeaways:

  • Physiotherapy may improve pain and function.
  • Personalized exercises are vital for recovery.
  • Early intervention leads to better outcomes.
  • Visit Vangool Wellness for specialized care.