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Advances in technology have enabled us to see things on MRIs today that we would never have been able to see even 10 years ago.

For cancer patients, that can mean the opportunity to seek treatment earlier with better outcomes. But in the field of orthopedics, in some cases, better imaging might be considered too much of a good thing.

This may be especially true for those for whom an MRI reveals a tear in their hip labrum. The labrum forms a lip around the socket part of the ball-and-socket hip joint and helps stabilize the structure. Similar to the meniscus in the knee, it can tear—often as the result of wear and tear as we age.

Yet it is important to note that labrum tears do not necessarily cause hip pain. Some patients with tears do not report any pain. And although numerous studies have demonstrated this, many patients whose MRIs reveal a tear are told they need surgery.

Even those patients who do report hip pain might be surprised to learn that a labral tear is not the cause of their pain anyway.

Other Causes of Hip Pain

The musculoskeletal system is a complex network of interconnected parts. In the hip region, this includes the sacroiliac (SI) joint, hip girdle muscles, ligaments, tendons and nerves. When there is instability in the three sacroiliac joints at the back of the hip (where the hip meets the sacrum or tailbone), patients may report hip pain or the sense that their legs are wobbly or loose.

The hip joint requires strong ligaments to help distribute forces from the leg to the spine. If these ligaments are damaged, their strength is compromised. In addition, all of the body’s lower extremities are supplied by nerves that branch off of the spinal column in the lower back. Issues such as a herniated or bulging disc, arthritis, degenerated disc or spinal stenosis could affect those nerves and cause pain from the hips down.

So before you are talked into surgery to repair a torn hip labrum, contact us. If you are experiencing pain, we will do a thorough exam and determine if the source of the pain is the tear itself or other issues. In many cases, we will recommend platelet rich plasma injections from Regenexx®, which use a concentration of your own blood products to jump-start and significantly strengthen the body’s natural healing processes in the injured tissue(s) that may be the actual source of your pain.