Femoro-Acetabular Impingement

What is a Femoro-Acetabular Impingement?

The irregular shape that develops results in the ball (femoral head) and socket (acetabulum) no longer fitting together perfectly and functioning smoothly. The abnormal motion that results can cause damage to the hip joint and is one of the most common causes of osteoarthritis.

Whilst it is uncommon, hip joint abnormalities can be present at birth or develop slowly without any presenting symptoms.

Symptoms of FAI

As a result common movements such as squatting and turning can see patients suffer with sharp stabbing pain. For many, an ongoing dull ache can also be present and can become debilitating over time.

Femoro-acetabular impingement treatments

Depending on the bone growth, an individual’s flexibility and daily activity demands, damage to the hip joint may not eventuate. And this is good news!

When discomfort does present, there are a number of non-surgical or at home treatments that patients can consider. However, depending on the condition, surgery may be a requirement for long-term benefit.

Non surgical options

At the first sign of hip joint discomfort it is important that a professional diagnosis is made. In some instances, the pain is caused by an activity you have done, so treatment options are merely to avoid repeating it and a temporary anti-inflammatory medication is prescribed.

In addition to activity changes and use of medications, physiotherapy may be recommended whereby a range of specific exercises are introduced to help strengthen the muscles surrounding the hip area. These help to relieve stress and support the joints.

Ongoing symptoms that are not minimised with non-surgical treatments can lead to hip damage so surgical treatment may be required.

Surgical options

Where the presence of FAI results in damage to the hip joint, hip preservation surgery is required. Also known as hip arthroscopy, this minimally invasive keyhole surgery is an effective option and sees positive results.

During the surgery, a small incision is made and utilising a camera, or arthroscope, any damage to the hip area is closely analysed and then necessary repairs are undertaken, and where required, the bone growth can be shaved to aid in a return of regular motion.

Hip preservation surgery despite its success in alleviating symptoms, does not reverse arthritis. Patients presenting with severe cartilage damage or established arthritis may benefit from alternative surgical treatments that will be discussed with you at a consultation.


Don’t put off a visit to the Adelaide Hip Centre.

Arrange a consultation if you are living with regular hip pain and common symptoms associated with osteoarthritis.

If you are concerned about ongoing hip joint pain or the potential presence of femoro-acetabular impingement, organise a referral from your doctor to the Adelaide Hip Centre. A personalised consultation with one of our surgeons will help ensure a correct diagnosis is made.  We can then discuss the most appropriate treatment options. Early action can help prevent extensive damage to the cartilage in the hip and prolong the onset of arthritis.

Contact us for any enquiries relating to femoro-acetabular impingement.