What Is A Hip impingement?

hip pain young adult

A hip impingement is technically called femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) and it is the most common hip injury for young athletes. A hip impingement occurs when something causes the ball and socket joint of the hip to pinch the cartilage surrounding it, causing pain throughout the groin.


There are multiple types of femoroacetabular impingement.

CAM-type impingements refer to a genetic deformity that makes the femoral ball misshapen so that it creates friction when you move your hip, especially during squatting motions. This friction will cause bone spurs to develop which can further rub away at the much-needed cartilage that makes your hip joint smooth and secure.

A Pincer-type impingement means that a deformity has made the acetabulum, or socket portion of the hip joint, too large so that it pinches the labrum cartilage that is supposed to seal the femoral head within the hip socket, causing it damage.

Finally, a Mixed-type impingement is a combination of the two.


Since the deformities that cause impingements are often genetic, you may have a hip impingement without ever knowing it. The painful symptoms and damage to the joint itself often occur in young athletes who use their hip joint often.

Symptoms will start as a dull aching pain in the groin and hip but can become sharper and more frequent in time. Extensive damage can be done to the cartilage in your hip joint, causing pieces of the labrum to tear. This will cause joint instability, possible locking, and stiffness, as well as an accelerated onset of chronic conditions like arthritis if the bones of your joint are allowed to keep wearing away the cartilage and then each other.


Your hip orthopedist will first try to strengthen and train your body to compensate for FAI with physical therapy. This will address the proper way to walk and perform other tasks so as not to aggravate the impingement or overcompensate and strain other areas of your body, like your back or knees. If this gradual regimen of strengthening and training is not enough to stop the effects of FAI, surgery may be necessary.

A hip impingement will often need arthroscopic surgery to correct. Fortunately, arthroscopic surgery is much less invasive than open surgery so there is less scarring, less risk of complication, and much less recovery time needed to get back into the game.

Rupesh Tarwala, MD is an expert hip orthopedist with international training and recognition. He, along with the rest of the orthopedists and physiatrists and NY Bone and Joint Specialists, provides the highest standard of care in NYC. Years of experience and excellence have made our practice the top rated in New York City and New Jersey. Our practice has one goal: a better quality of life for our patients.

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