Rates of hip arthroscopic procedure rates for labral tears and femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) have sky rocketed over in the last couple of decades secondary to more surgeons being trained in this area, as well as, a higher utilization of MRI testing in patients with hip pain. As we have discussed in prior blogs on imaging of musculoskeletal conditions MRI tests are highly sensitive and can identify pathology in many patients with and without pain. This may lead to unnecessary and costly tests and procedures including surgery if the patient’s MRI is not accurately placed in the context of their clinical examination. These MRI changes are well established in pain free athletes including high level throwing athletes’ shoulders. A recent review of the medical literature reports on the high incidence of hip pathology in both asymptomatic and symptomatic athletes.
The journal Sports Medicine published a recent article on the prevalence of hip pathology in active athletes (Heerey et al. 2019). Authors aimed to identify pathology rates including FAI, labral tears, and osteoarthritis among healthy and painful athletes. They identified 20 studies and pooled the studies results. Consistent with prior research around half of all pain free athletes had a labral tear upon MRI testing. Hip cartilage defects were also prevalent in both groups, but identification of hip OA was rare. This study adds to our existing understanding on hip FAI and labral tears in asymptomatic athletes. Clinicians and patients should ensure their MRI findings are interpreted with their subjective history and clinical examination in order to receive the optimal treatment.