Femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) is a condition where extra bony growth occurs at the hip joint; either on the side of the femoral neck (top of the thigh bone) or at the acetabulum (hip socket) which then causes an irregularly shaped hip joint. In some people, FAI can cause abnormal bony contact and be a cause of hip joint stiffness and pain at the front of the hip, as well as in the groin and buttock.
What causes FAI?
FAI can be caused by a primary hip condition, such as Perthes disease in childhood. More commonly, it is thought to develop due to secondary causes such as high hip joint loads in a young, athletic person.
How is it diagnosed?
Not all people with FAI experience pain or stiffness. Because of this, symptomatic FAI is diagnosed using the Warwick agreement criteria: anterior hip pain, symptom reproduction on a hip joint physical examination and specific hip joint changes on imaging.
How is it treated?
FAI can be well managed with physiotherapy. Assessment involves looking at hip joint range of motion and a thorough strength assessment of muscles around the trunk and hip. The role of physiotherapy is to then address impairments, and guide the person with FAI through a targeted exercise program for a minimum of 3 months.
If you have hip pain, please don’t suffer in silence. One of our physiotherapists can guide you through assessment, diagnosis and then the most appropriate form of management.
Griffin DR, Dickenson EJ, O’Donnell J, et al. The Warwick Agreement on femoroacetabular impingement syndrome (FAI syndrome): an international consensus statement. British Journal of Sports Medicine 2016;50:1169-1176.
Joanne L. Kemp, Sally L. Coburn, Denise M. Jones, and Kay M. Crossley. The Physiotherapy for Femoroacetabular Impingement Rehabilitation Study (physioFIRST): A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy 2018 48:4, 307-315