Surgical vs Non-Surgical Treatment of Hip Labral Tears: What You Need to Know

A hip labral tear occurs when the cartilage ring in the outer edge of the hip joint socket is damaged. The labrum cushions the hip joint and acts as a gasket to secure the ball in the thigh bone. Individuals involved in sports like soccer, ice hockey, and football are more susceptible to this injury.

Treatment options for a hip labral tear include surgical and non-surgical methods. Non-surgical options include rest, exercises, physical therapy, pain management techniques, and open-patient and arthroscopic surgery. 

The choice of treatment depends on factors such as the patient’s age, the severity of the tear, and possible complications of surgery. Therefore, before choosing a treatment option, it is essential to understand the advantages and disadvantages of each. That said, let’s discuss the non-surgical treatment options in detail below.

Non-Surgical Treatment Options

There are non-surgical treatments for a hip labral tear. These include

  • Rest and Activity Modification

It aims to decrease or eradicate movements causing pain and discomfort and helps improve soft tissue flexibility. Usually, foam rolling exercises can help eliminate the pain associated with the tear. 

For instance, glute roll helps decrease pressure on the sore muscles, getting adequate support from free limbs. Groin roll is also helpful. As a result, you must adjust your position to avoid further damage to the hip muscles.

  • Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is highly effective for a hip labral tear. It can help reduce pain and improve the functioning of the hip or groin. Additionally, a physiotherapist trains the patient to help him regain hip strength and movement coordination. 

The common hip labral tear treatment exercises involve side planks, side stepping with resistance, bridge, deadlift with a single leg and dead bug. The physiotherapist will craft the exercise plan per the patient’s needs and capabilities. Undergoing physical therapy in time can help identify whether or not the individual requires surgical interventions after conservative treatment.

  • Pain Management Techniques

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as naproxen, sodium and ibuprofen can relieve inflammation and pain. Additionally, injecting corticosteroids into the joint can also help temporarily control pain.

  • Pros and Cons of Non-Surgical Treatment

An advantage of non-surgical treatment is that the patients get pain relief without the risks associated with surgical procedures. The therapy also helps trigger an improved range of motion. 

The non-surgical treatment plan has a high success rate with a fewer chance of recurring hip labral tears. However, sometimes, non-surgical treatments are not fruitful, and the patient must undergo painful surgery. 

Surgical Treatment Options 

There are different surgical treatment options for hip labral tears, which are as follows:

  • Arthroscopic Surgery

It is a popular hip labral tear surgery for hip impingements and sports-oriented labral tear injuries. This surgery possesses effective short-term outcomes and long-term pain relief. 

As this is a minimally invasive procedure, it involves a shorter recovery time. Professional surgeons can help repair and eliminate damaged soft tissue with minimal exposure to the hip joint.    

  • Open Surgery

Open hip labral tear surgery is one of the obvious choices for acetabular tears. It is a major invasive surgery. The surgeon may dislocate the femoral head from the hip socket during operation hours. You will be under general anesthesia during the surgery and will likely spend 2-5 days in the hospital. The surgeon may also perform a debridement, hip dysplasias and correct hip impingements.    

  • Recovery Time and Rehabilitation

Typically, individuals undergoing physical therapy may need to spend a minimum of fs to recover their ability to carry out daily tasks. However, it may take up to nine months to regain full functionality.

During physical therapy sessions, the physiotherapist will likely suggest a range of motion exercises to enhance mobility. These exercises are designed to promote healthy blood flow to the hip, thereby reducing inflammation and swelling in the joint and surrounding areas.

  • Pros and Cons of Surgical Treatment

Hip labral tear surgery can alleviate muscle tightness and pain and improve the range of motion in the hip joint by repairing the damaged tissue. However, it is important to note that the recovery process can be lengthy, and strict adherence to the prescribed rehabilitation protocols is crucial to prevent the risk of re-injury.

It’s suggested to consider the individual’s physical condition before undergoing surgery. For obese individuals with high muscle mass, the surgical procedure isn’t recommended due to the increased risk of complications.

Now that we have discussed both surgical and non-surgical treatments, let’s discuss the factors to consider when deciding between surgical and non-surgical treatments.

Factors to Consider When Deciding Between Surgical and Non-Surgical Treatment

When deciding between surgical and non-surgical treatment options for hip labral tears, it’s essential to consider several factors, including

  • The Severity of the Hip Labral Tear

Although hip labral tears exhibit no signs or symptoms, some people may experience extensive pain in the hip, which worsens with long periods of sitting, walking or standing. The treatment plan for hip labral tears is determined based on the severity of the pain experienced by the individual.

  • Age and Activity Level of the Patient

Hip labral tears generally occur between 8-72 years of age, with women more likely to get affected than men. The physician recommends the treatment option based on age and activity levels.

  • Potential Risks and Complications of Surgery

The possible risk and complications of hip labral tears surgery include infection, nerve damage, blood vessel damage, deep vein thrombosis, hemarthrosis and failure for pain relief.

  • Likelihood of Success with Non-Surgical Treatment

Non-surgical treatments are highly effective for hip labral tears as it offers long-lasting relief with minimal risk of side effects.  


A hip labral tear involves the labrum lining the exterior side of the hip joint socket. If the pain and stiffness are not eliminated with non-surgical treatment, you should seek immediate medical help. In that case, the physician may recommend surgery such as arthroscopic surgery or open surgery. 

You need to weigh the pros and cons of both treatment options to ensure the success rate of the treatment. Schedule an appointment today with your physician to know more about the treatment protocols.

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