Simple Guide to Femoroacetabular Impingement


About FAI?

Femoroacetabular Impingement (FAI) is a common musculoskeletal condition
in young adults related to repetitive stress occurring at the hip joint. It
causes sensitisation in the hip region and can often trigger an inflammatory
response, a combination that drives client’s symptoms.

Physiotherapy is a primary treatment option for FAI and is recommended as a
client’s first point of contact when this condition is suspected.


Anatomy of Hip FAI?

Due to changes that occur at the joint there is a disruption to the normal
mechanisms that allows for free movement to occur.

The hip is best described as a ball and socket joint, both sides having an
articular surface. In FAI changes can occur on either aspect of the joint or be
a combination of both. When these changes are present the way the joint
moves become compromised. This restricts client’s movement into certain
directions and can be a mechanism that drives people’s symptoms.

The mechanics at the joint are impacted by a number of factors particularly
the function of your hip flexor muscles. This muscles insert in close proximity
to the hip joint and when it is underperforming can cause local dysfunction in
the area.


Clinical features of FAI?

What will a client with FAI likely present with?

Aged between 18 and 35 (but not limited to)
Deep groin pain
Reduced range of motion into flexion and/or internal rotation
Symptoms progressive in nature with an insidious onset
Pain after a period of repetitive activity ie running


Management of hip FAI?

In the initial stages of FAI management, the goal is often to reduce and control client’s symptoms. This is done by unloading the area, educating clients to effectively make changes to provocative activities and by using therapeutic treatment techniques.

In cases where the level of irritation cannot be controlled scans may be advised to gather further information. Depending on these results further input by client’s General Practitioner or Surgeon may be recommended.


Rehabilitation of hip FAI?

Restoring optimal biomechanics at the hip joint can be achieved through
effective rehabilitation with your physiotherapist.

In the early stages restoring normal mechanics at the hip joint will be facilitated through mobilisations that encourage fluent movement. The soft tissues in the area will also be targeted to improve their functioning and hence capacity.

A progressive strengthening program to target client’s hip muscles, particularly into hip flexion, will commence as soon as possible. This aims to give the joint more support whilst improving its functional output. As this occurs rehab transitions towards returning clients to participating in the things they love to do and remain happy/healthy.


Dylan Barnaby
Dylan Barnaby
Principal Physiotherapist (APA) B. Physio Dylan has gained broad experience treating patients with a variety of musculoskeletal conditions. After two years of providing player support to AFL clubs travelling to Perth, Dylan is continuing his work with the Gold Coast Suns as a Melbourne based trainer.