What is Hip Impingement?

Article by Zoe Russell

What is Hip Impingement?

Hip impingement is a condition in which there is premature contact of the ball and the socket of the hip. This has recently been defined by Griffin et al (2016) as Femoroacetabular Impingement Syndrome (FAIS).

FAIS diagnosis is based upon


  • Hip or groin and buttock pain that is related to movement.
  • Pain is primarily felt deep in the groin at the front of the hip; more rarely it can be on the side of the hip or the buttock.

Clinical Signs

  • Symptom reproduction on the FAIR impingement test – hip flexion adduction and internal rotation;
  • When testing the hip range of motion, there may be a restriction in hip flexion and internal rotation;
  • Weakness of your hip musculature;

Imaging Findings

  • Radiology (X-Ray) investigations may be used to assess the bony morphology (shape) of the proximal femur.
  • Subsequent imaging techniques such as a CT or MRI scan may be used to clarify the status of the hip further, and exclude any differential diagnosis conditions.

To be diagnosed with FAIS or Hip impingement, you must meet all 3 of these criteria.

FAIS develops due to a number of reasons, that are divided into primary and secondary causes:

Primary or idiopathic causes are related to the activities we perform throughout our lifespan, and our body responds through our development, particularly in our youth years. This history explains the tendency for athletes, sporting professionals and active people to be more susceptible to this form of injury.

Secondary causes are often related to previous hip pathology or trauma, such as:

  • Perthes
  • Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis (SCFE)
  • Fracture of the Femur

FAIS is treated with Physiotherapy as the mainstay, and in some cases, a further referral may be required. However, this is only required following a trial of Physiotherapy management. Kemp et al. (2020) recommend an initial treatment regime of non-surgical management, of at least three months duration. Physiotherapy can assist by using a variety of techniques to:

  • mobilise the hip joint
  • improve soft tissue flexibility and length
  • strengthen the deep, intermediate and superficial hip muscles
  • progress hip muscle, proprioception, joint position sense and functional control to dynamically control your hip

The use of painkillers and anti-inflammatories may temporarily help the pain reduce the local anti-inflammatory reaction.

If your symptoms continue, despite non – surgical management, your Physiotherapist may discuss referral to an orthopaedic surgeon.

Your PhysioWorks physiotherapist is an expert at helping diagnose and plan a rehabilitation program for your Hip impingement symptoms. With same-day appointments available contact your nearest PhysioWorks clinics to discuss your needs.

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