Is hip labral tear recovery without surgery possible? Hip surgery can be a frightening prospect since it’s often invasive and difficult to recover from. When you experience a labral tear, surgery is often on the table. But why is surgery recommended? And do you have other options?
The options for treatment for a labral tear in the hip depend on the severity of the tear. The less severe your labral tear is, the easier it will be to treat without surgery.
To understand labral tears, we first need to understand the way your hip is put together. We’ll also need to take a look at common causes of labral tears and what you should do if you suspect your labrum is torn.
After that, we’ll look at non-surgical treatment options for labral tears that you can discuss with your healthcare team.
What is a labral tear?
A labral tear is a common injury of the labrum in your hip or shoulder. Hip labral tears are most common in athletes or older adults. This is because labrum injuries are cartilage injuries, and cartilage weakens as we grow older.
What is a labrum?
The labrum is a ring of cartilage and tissue found in ball and socket joints – like your hip and shoulder. When exploring hip labral tear recovery without surgery, you need to know that labrums do two things.
First, they cushion the joint so the bones aren’t rubbing against each other directly. Second, they provide extra stability and support so the “ball” part of the joint fits snugly into the “socket.”
Understanding that your labrum is made of cartilage and provides stability gives us a few insights on hip labral tear recovery without surgery. Cartilage isn’t something that can repair itself easily, so any damage to cartilage will leave a permanent impact on your body.
Surgery helps to pull together the damaged cartilage with sutures. In extreme cases, screws may also be inserted to hold the femur in place. This means that any hip labral tear recovery without surgery will need to provide pain management and replace the stability that the labral tear damaged.
Finally, they say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so strengthening your joints and cartilage are extremely important.
How do labral hip tears happen?
Labral hip tears are caused by three main things: genetic issues, repetitive motions, or traumatic events.
With genetic issues, like osteoarthritis, hip dysplasia, or hip impingement, your body simply grew in a way that caused your labrum to carry extra stress. You’ll want to speak with your healthcare team about how you can treat the underlying issues while taking action toward hip labral tear recovery without surgery.
Repetitive motions and traumatic events can happen to anyone, regardless of other health conditions.
Repetitive motions are usually due to an occupation or sport that requires you to move your leg in the same way over and over. This motion wears down cartilage more quickly, and can lead to the motion causing an injury.
Traumatic events cover everything from a fall to a car accident. Any sudden, unexpected event that causes an injury falls under this category. Typically, your cartilage will already be worn down a bit – by age or repetitive motions – and the event pushes the weakened cartilage beyond its limit.
Do labral tears heal on their own?
If it’s possible to have hip labral tear recovery without surgery, that must mean that labral tears heal on their own, right? Not quite. Remember, the labrum is made primarily of cartilage. Cartilage heals very slowly, and sometimes not at all.
Why is cartilage slow to heal? And if bones can heal themselves, why does cartilage sometimes not heal at all?
Cartilage is a very special kind of tissue. It’s at least 60% collagen and the other 40% of its dry weight is composed of other proteins, making it incredibly durable.
Most importantly, though, cartilage doesn’t have any blood vessels running through it. This means it’s nearly impossible for your body to send the necessary cells to repair cartilage to the site of the injury.
Because of this, labral tears usually don’t heal on their own. For minor labral tears, this isn’t an issue. Your body can compensate for the damaged cartilage so well, you may not even realize you have a labral tear!
One study found that 69% of the observed patients who reported no pain had labral hip tears. So when and how should you seek treatment that leads to hip labral tear recovery without surgery?
What should you do if you suspect you have a labral hip tear?
There are a few reasons you might suspect you have a labral hip tear. The first is hip pain, but this can look different for different people.
Some people describe it as a sharp pain that flares up and then fades. Others say it’s a constant dull ache in their hips, groin, or buttocks that doesn’t go away no matter what.
You might also notice stiffness and a reduced range of motion.
Some people might notice their hip locking up, clicking, or “catching” with movement.
These can all be signs of other hip injuries, as well, so it’s important to keep yourself informed by working with your healthcare team. Once you have confirmation of the problem, you can explore treatments leading to hip labral tear recovery without surgery.
When should you call the doctor about hip pain?
Call your doctor as soon as your hip pain starts to interfere with your daily life. You should also reach out if the pain lasts for more than a couple of weeks without fading, or gets worse over time. Hip labral tear recovery without surgery is easiest when the tear is still mild, so don’t wait too long!
Is it ok to walk with a labral hip tear?
It’s perfectly safe to walk short distances – like getting up to use the restroom, walking into the doctor’s office, or other daily tasks.
Walking can also be part of your hip labral tear recovery without surgery. Walking allows your body to strengthen the surrounding muscles, making compensation for the injured labrum easier.
In severe labral hip tears, though, walking might be painful. If walking is causing you pain, avoid it or use mobility aids as your doctor instructs.
What happens if a hip labral tear goes untreated?
What if you don’t want to seek treatment for a labral tear in the hip? Can hip labral tear recovery without surgery still happen if your tear goes untreated?
Surgery becomes more likely if a labral tear is ignored. Beyond that, pain will increase over time as the damaged cartilage continues to be worn down. Your mobility and stability will continue to decrease, and you’ll be at risk for conditions like osteoarthritis and other injuries to surrounding muscles.
Remember, your options for hip labral tear recovery without surgery will depend on how severe the tear is. In some cases, you’ll need surgery to recover. Overall, though, you should be able to treat your labral tear in non-invasive ways.
So what are those options? Let’s go over some potential non-surgical treatments for hip labral tears.
Non-surgical treatment for labral tear in hip: what are your options?
If you’re looking to treat a hip labral tear without surgery, the pillars of recovery will be pain management, labral tear hip exercises, and medical nutrition.
Pain management will make sure the tear has the smallest possible impact on your life.
Exercises will help your muscles better support your hip, putting less strain on the labrum.
And medical nutrition will ensure your body has all the basic building blocks it needs to increase strength and repair damaged tissue.
Let’s first discuss the most common pain management techniques for hip labral tears.
Injection and cell-based therapy
When exploring hip labral tear recovery without surgery, the most effective pain management technique comes in the form of injections. There are a number of injections for hip pain that contain different medications, usually different kinds of Corticosteroids.
Other injections are designed to help your body heal itself. People looking for hip cartilage repair without surgery are already making use of some of these injections, which use your body’s natural resources to heal and repair your hip.
The two current resources are platelet-rich plasma therapy (PRP) and stem cell therapy.
PRP uses a concentrated version of two substances found in your blood – platelets and plasma. These are dense with anti-inflammatory proteins and growth-factors that help to relieve the symptoms of hip labral tears.
Stem cell therapy uses stem cells – usually from your bone marrow – to regrow cartilage. This type of therapy is still new, but results have been promising so far.
But these types of intervention are not usually the first course of action when you’re looking to achieve hip labral tear recovery without surgery. Usually, you’ll start with physical therapy.
Physical therapy is less invasive than injections, and far less invasive than surgery would be. Physical therapists are trained experts in how the body moves and can help guide you through labral tear hip exercises that increase your strength and range of motion.
Physical therapy is often a cornerstone of hip labral tear recovery without surgery. In patients with mild to moderate tears, physical therapy significantly improved both pain and range of motion.
There are about 30 muscles in your hip, and even more than that in your core, and both can impact the amount of strain your hip joint carries. With physical therapy, you can strengthen these surrounding muscles deliberately, allowing them to compensate for the injured hip without being injured themselves.
If you have a very mild tear, treatment for a labral tear in the hip can be done at home.
At-home treatments and labral tear hip exercises
To assist your hip labral tear healing process from home, start by managing your pain with over-the-counter medications (like ibuprofen) and heat or cold therapy.
Next, incorporate labral tear hip exercises. Some of the most common suggestions include using a resistance band for various stretches, gentle yoga poses, and rotating lunges. Always be aware of your pain level during these exercises, and ease off if the pain becomes too intent.
Then, use medical nutrition to support your hip labral tear recovery without surgery. This can include staying well hydrated, eating a balanced diet, and supplementing your diet with collagen peptides.
Collagen peptides are a version of collagen that has been broken down so your body can more easily digest them.
In its natural state, collagen is made of three chains of essential amino acids – the basic building blocks of the body. This makes it difficult to absorb, so your body only gets a tiny percentage of the benefits. Peptides are broken down so your body can reap all the benefits collagen has to offer.
Collagen peptides benefits for joints have been overlooked as part of hip labral tear recovery without surgery, but the research to support them is growing.
This makes sense, since your labrum is made of cartilage, which is primarily made of collagen. As a protein, collagen peptides can also support the muscles you’re growing with physical therapy or at-home labral tear hip exercises.
Boosting hip labral tear recovery without surgery
Treatment for a labral tear in the hip, like all medical treatments, is constantly evolving and changing. As we learn more about how the body functions, treatments in hospitals and at home change.
Hip labral tear recovery without surgery is possible, and thanks to advancements in medicine, it’s more accessible than ever. Over-the-counter medication makes pain management simple.
Physical therapists often share their wisdom online, so you can access the exercises that will strengthen and speed your recovery. And medical-grade collagen allows you to unlock your body’s capacity to use nutrition to heal itself.
Your labrum is the unsung hero of the hip, something you rely on every day. The better you can care for your cartilage, the less likely a minor labral tear will require surgery.