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Physical Therapy for Hip Labral Tear – Information, Exercises, and More

If you’ve been suffering from the pain of a hip labral tear, then you know how uncomfortable it can be.

You may be wondering if physical therapy for hip labral tears is an option and how it might help.

In this quick guide, we share information, exercises, and everything you need to know about treatment for a hip labral tear.


What Is a Hip Labral Tear?

When looking at the hip, it appears to be shaped like a ball and socket, the socket being the acetabulum and the ball being the femoral head (at the top of the leg). The labrum is the soft tissue that covers the acetabulum.

The labrum:

  • Is responsible for the smooth movement of the femoral head 
  • Allows your hip to move freely and without pain; and 
  • Serves as a seal between the ball and socket so they cannot rub.

A hip labral tear occurs when the hip labrum is injured, torn, or detached from the acetabular socket.

What Causes a Hip Labral Tear?

Several causes may be responsible for your hip labral tear. Here are some of the most common.


Hip labral tears are most common in athletes who suffer the trauma of a sudden impact on the hips, such as:

  • Hockey players
  • Football players
  • Soccer players
  • Basketball players
  • Runners
  • Etc. 

Dislocation or injury of the hip joint can also happen to people who work in jobs where repeated hip flexion is necessary and accidents are possible, (such as construction work or hard labor), during a car accident, or from falling.

Repetitive Motion

In many cases, repetitive motion from daily activities will cause wear and tear on the labrum. 

Long-distance runners or hiking enthusiasts, for example, may start to experience pain in their hips. A hip labral tear could be the culprit.

The sudden pivoting or twisting that is common among baseball players or golfers can also cause joint wear and tear, leading to a torn hip labrum.

Structural Ailments

In some cases, a person may be born with structural impairments that can speed up the wear and tear of the hip joint and ultimately cause a tear in the labrum.

Femoroacetabular impingement (FAI), for example, is one of the leading causes of hip labral tears. In FAI, the femoral head does not align with the socket, causing an imperfect fit. This can result in movement limitations as well as groin pain.

FAI can lead to osteoarthritis in some patients if not treated properly.

Hip Labral Tear Symptoms

Symptoms of a hip labral tear may include:

  • Pain in the groin or buttocks
  • Stiffness or pain in the hip
  • Unsteadiness when on your feet
  • Clicking sound or the feeling of “locking” in the hip when moving

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, you should see a doctor as soon as possible. 

Pain and discomfort will only worsen over time, especially when:

  • Bending
  • Moving
  • Rotating; or 
  • Exercising

However, it is possible to have a tear in your hip labrum and experience no symptoms. A diagnosis is necessary to determine your next steps.

Hip Labral Tear Diagnosis

Diagnosis begins with a physical exam where your doctor will instruct you to walk around and move your leg while gauging your level of pain.

Imaging tests may also be necessary to diagnose a hip labral tear. These tests may include:

  • X-rays – an x-ray will alert the doctor to possible problems with the bones in your hip.
  • MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) – this test will show more detail in the soft tissue and highlight the severity of the labral tear.

Hip Labrum Tear Rehab Options

You’ll have four main options for hip labrum tear rehab, including:

  1. Over-the-Counter-Medications – NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, can be used to relieve pain and decrease inflammation.
  2. Medical Injections – Medications, such as steroids, can be injected to decrease pain and ease symptoms.
  3. Physical Therapy – A physical therapist can design a program to include specific exercises that can get you back on your feet and pain-free.
  4. Surgery – A severe tear may require a hip arthroscopy, an outpatient procedure to reattach or debride (clean) the labrum and reattach it to the socket.

Labral Hip Tear Physical Therapy – Will PT Help?

Studies have shown that physical therapy treatment for hip labral tears is an effective method to reduce symptoms and show meaningful improvement.

A physical therapist will design a customized treatment plan based on: 

  • The cause of the tear
  • The extent of the tear; and 
  • Your symptoms.

Depending on your specific case and your level of dedication to your care, physical therapy for hip labral tear may provide significant improvement in 6-8 weeks.

Physical Therapy Exercises for Hip Labral Tear

Three common physical therapy exercises for hip labral tears that your therapist may require as a part of your recovery include:

  • Side planks – this is an ab exercise that will also help strengthen your hips. Lie on your side, stacking your legs one on top of the other, and keeping your forearm on the floor to prop you up. Next, lift your hip off the floor, using your forearm to keep you balanced. Repeat the exercise on the other side.
  • physical-therapy-exercises-for-hip-labral-tearSingle-leg bridge – lie on the floor with your feet flat and hip-width apart, arms at your side. Using the strength of your abdominals, lift your buttocks off the floor while extending one leg in front of you. Slowly lower down to the original position and repeat on the other side.
  • Standing hip abduction – with or without a resistance band around your ankles, stand up straight and lift one leg as far to the side as you can (use a wall or chair for balance, if needed). Pause at the top for a second before returning to the original position. Repeat for 3 sets of 10 repetitions on each side. 

Your physical therapist may prescribe additional exercises to help your recovery, and exercises may increase in difficulty as your symptoms improve.

How In Motion O.C. Can Help With a Hip Labral Tear

In Motion O.C. has helped hundreds of patients with hip labral tears — and we can help you too. 

Check out our patient testimonials and case studies and see for yourself why we’ve been Voted #1 Physical Therapy Clinic in the entire country on Yelp.

We’re committed to bringing relief and comfort to every patient we treat. If you need physical therapy for a hip labral tear, give us a call. 

All of our physical therapy treatments are conducted by our highly-trained physical therapists in state-of-the-art facilities.

In Motion O.C.