3 Things Swimmers Need To Know About Femoroacetabular Impingement

Femoroacetabular impingement syndrome, also known as hip impingement syndrome, is a sports injury that can affect swimmers. Here are three things swimmers need to know about femoroacetabular impingement syndrome.

What are the signs of femoroacetabular impingement syndrome?

Femoroacetabular impingement syndrome typically causes pain in the hip and groin region. You'll notice a decreased range of motion in the affected hip, which can make swimming difficult.

How does swimming cause it?

In a healthy hip, the femoral head—the uppermost portion of your thigh bone—fits into the acetabulum. The acetabulum is the socket of your hip bone. The acetabulum is surrounded by cartilage which helps cushion the joint and allow for normal movement. In a hip with femoroacetabular impingement syndrome, the femoral head rubs against the acetabulum abnormally. This can be caused by damage to the protective cartilage.

Swimming requires a lot of kicking, no matter which stroke you choose, and every time you kick, your femoral head rubs against the cartilage that cushions the joint. Through time and overuse, the bone can damage the cartilage and start to rub against the acetabulum, leading to pain.

How is femoroacetabular impingement syndrome treated?

Conservative therapies like activity modification will be attempted first to allow your cartilage to heal. You won't be able to swim, though complete rest is not ideal because it won't allow you to maintain your fitness level. To avoid losing your conditioning, you'll need to see a physiotherapist to perform appropriate exercises that won't make your hip injury worse.

If your cartilage doesn't heal through conservative therapies, you'll need to have surgery to repair it. Surgical hip dislocation is the main procedure used to treat this injury. Your surgeon will make a 15 cm long incision across your hip to be able to see the joint. The femoral head will then be dislocated so that the surgeon can inspect the acetabulum. Next, your cartilage will be repaired, and your femoral head will be put back in place.

This surgery is safe, but since it's very invasive, you won't be able to bear weight for four weeks. Your muscles will be weak for about three months after the surgery, and it may be more than six months before you can get back in the pool, according to NIH. During your recovery period, your physiotherapist will help you regain your strength and avoid hip stiffness.

If you think you have femoroacetabular impingement syndrome, visit a health clinic immediately.