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Diagnosing Hip Labral Tears

Early diagnosis of hip labral tears remains to be a challenging issue in today's clinical practice.  In vast majority of the cases, other structures within the hip joint have also sustained hip injuries. Since hip labral tears are responsible from groin pain and anterior hip pain, patients usually refer to diverse healthcare providers and remain to be undiagnosed for an extended period of time ( usually 2 or more years depending on the case) before getting a proper diagnosis. 

During the physical examination, doctors analyze the signs and symptoms and try to understand when the pain was started together with it's progress.  After moving your legs and hips in various positions to assess your range of motion they make an evaluation based on the positions where your hip hurts.

To confirm a definitive diagnosis of a hip labral tear, they apply specific tests and diagnostic methods including:

  • X-rays
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • Anesthesia Injection
  • Drugs and Treatments
  • Medications
X-rays: X-ray Image of HipsAs a form of electromagnetic radiation, X-rays provide excellent visuals of bone. However, X-rays do not provide images on soft tissue, they are mainly used in clinical practice to eliminate the possibility of fractures or structural abnormalities.  To diagnose a hip labral tear, doctors will need to employ further diagnostic methods. Merely evaluating X-ray images will not provide sufficient input for a proper diagnosis.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): Man lying under MRI scanThis is a test which uses a magnetic field and pulses of radio wave energy to produce images of organs and structures within the body.  With the use of MRIs doctors are able to examine detailed images of soft tissues around the hip.  During the procedure, a contrast material may be injected into the hip joint space to make the images more clear and better define the presence of a hip labral tear.

Anesthesia Injection

To determine the source of the pain, doctors inject anesthesia into the hip joint space.  This helps doctors to decide whether the problem is within the joint or outside the joint, depending on the patients' response to the anesthetic injection.  They may conclude that the problem is inside your hip joint if the anesthesia relieves your pain.

Medications: 
Doctors us various medications to control pain and reduce inflammation including non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), naproxen and  injection of corticosteroids (that are applied into the joint)

Drugs and Treatments: 


Depending on the severity of the symptoms, doctors will decide the choice of drugs and treatments. While certain patients may recover in a few weeks with conservative treatments, others may need arthroscopic surgery to repair or remove the torn portion of the labrum.

References:

1. "Hip Labral Tear, Test and Diagnosis." Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, n.d. Web. 02 Dec. 2012. <http://www.mayoclinic.com/>.


2."A Comprehensive Review of Hip Labral Tears." National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 02 Dec. 2012. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/>.


3. "Labral Tear." Outpatient Center, Stanford Medicine. Stanford Hospital & Clinics, n.d. Web. 2 Dec. 2012.