Physical Therapy for Torn Labrum

Although there is a multitude of health issues that cause pain to occur in the hip region, one of the reasons is a tear in a hip bone’s fibrocartilage. The labrum fibrocartilage attached to the hip helps to hold the thigh bone securely within the hip socket. To help patients better understand labral tears, this article will provide readers with more information regarding hip socket anatomy, some of the causes that lead to a torn labrum, along with signs and symptoms that might be an indication an individual is experiencing this particular medical condition.

Anatomy of the Hip

The labrum is a ring of cartilage located on the outside lip, or edge, of each hip joint. According to WebMD, this ring of cartilage helps to cushion the hip joint, as well as acts as a gasket or seal to help hold the ball located at the top of each femur (thigh bone) to the “lip” or rim of the hip socket. If an individual should incur a tear in this labral fibrocartilage, it can lead to pain, as well as the decreased overall functioning of the hip area. In addition, a torn labrum can also predispose a person to increased wear and tear (osteoarthritis) on the hip joint itself.

What Causes a Labral Tear?

Some individuals are born with structural abnormalities such as hip dysplasia, which can lead to a labral tear. However, most individuals experience a tear after some kind of trauma such as a vehicle accident, or after incurring a sports-related injury. In particular, sports activities that include a lot of repetitive motion, especially external hip rotation movements such as pivoting or twisting, can lead to a labral tear. In addition, sports activities such as football or hockey are often likely to lead to a direct blow on the hip. Individuals with weak glutes and/or abdominals are also more prone to experiencing a labral tear.

Signs and Symptoms

Hip or groin pain, stiffness, and a limited range of motion in the hip area are signs of a possible labral cartilage tear. Hip and/or leg pain after a session of prolonged sitting could be a sign of a labral tear as well. Many patients experience a clicking or locking sensation after trying to move their hip, as well as anterior (outer hip) pain that increases when they try to extend their leg and/or rotate it to the side. Patients with a labral tear often report it becomes painful to walk and painful to run as well. Without treatment, a labral tear can eventually lead to hip weakness.


When a physician suspects their patient has a tear in their labrum, they will likely confirm their diagnosis with an MRI test. Professional physical therapists also have a series of non-invasive, non-imaging tests they can use if they suspect their patient is suffering from a labrum tear.


According to the Mayo Clinic, one of the best ways to both avoid and recover a torn labrum is to condition the muscles surrounding the hip area by introducing strengthening and flexibility exercises. This is why physicians often prescribe a series of physical therapy sessions for their patients who experience a labral tear in the hip area. A physical therapist will execute a series of tools and techniques designed to relieve pain in their patients, then move to exercises designed to stretch and strengthen key muscles to help provide the proper support and stability to the hip area. For the sports athlete, physical therapists can also recommend key exercises to include in their training program so they will not encounter a relapse tear in the future.

If you are currently experiencing hip pain and would like more information about a torn labrum, please contact us at 570-208-2787 or email us at:

Article Written by Dr. Danica Kuti DPT