The ends of the femur and acetabulum – the hip bones – are capped with a smooth surface called articular cartilage. Cartilage protects the ends of bone; it can withstand a tremendous amount of force and is significantly smoother than ice, which allows smooth motion in the hip joint. An articular cartilage injury (or “chondral” injury), may occur following a twisting injury to the hip, a direct blow to the hip, or wear and tear as a one ages. Small pieces of articular cartilage can break off and float around in the hip as loose bodies, causing locking, catching and/or swelling.
- Groin discomfort
- Instability with walking, turning and pivoting
- Catching or locking in the hip
Diagnosis And Treatment
Dr. Welch considers each patient’s symptoms, as well as a detailed physical examination, x-rays, and usually an MRI of the hip to make the diagnosis of cartilage injury.
In patients with limited cartilage damage in the hip, non-surgical treatment with physical therapy is usually very helpful. The physical therapy program focuses on strengthening core and hip muscles around the hip joint. Non-surgical treatment also includes activity modification, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and on occasion, steroid or other types of injections. In those patients with recurrent symptoms, surgical intervention may be the best option.