Femoroacetabular Impingement (FAI)

Femoroacetabular Impingement (FAI)


FAI is a condition that is becoming more frequent in diagnosis amongst allied health professionals, general practitioners and sports medical doctors.  It is a condition affecting the hip and in simple terms there is a mismatch between the ball and socket joint.  Individuals suffering from FAI may present in a variety of different ways within the osteopathy clinic.  This can range from someone who is just tight through the hip to the person who has marked pain, discomfort and limited range of movement in and around the hip and groin.

Typically the clinical history and physical examination will lead the treating practitioner (osteo, physio, gp or sports medical doctor) to suspect there is hip joint involvement.  Often the individual may be sent for further imaging such as an x-ray or MRI to provide further clarification on the extent of the structural changes and whether there are other structures i.e. cartilage etc involved.


FAI of the hip is commonly described as one of the following types of impingement:

  • CAM FAI Impingement – where there is commonly a bump on the head of the femur.
  • PINCER FAI Impingement – where there is increased coverage by the acetabulum over the head of the femur.
  • MIXED FAI Impingement – where there is a combination of both types.

It is believed that many people have structural variances in their hip (ball and socket) joint and the hip is often an area that is loaded and perhaps triggers a response that leads to the FAI in various groups of individuals such as sporting people and active people.


Common Signs and Symptoms Include:

  • Hip and groin pain
  • Restricted range of movement in the hip i.e. flexion and internal rotation
  • Pain that is provoked following activity or sitting for too long


Labrum Injuries

Sometimes a labral tear might be present in an individual who is suffering from FAI.  Typically clients who present with labral tears in their hip will trial more conservative treatment such as rest, manual therapy and prescription of medication or corticosteroid injections.  In some cases the specialist may recommend you go straight for surgery depending on the severity of the tear.   Pre and post surgery the osteopath will be able to provide you with a combination of manual therapy and exercise prescription to help with the rehabilitation phase.


How Can Osteopathy Help?

  • Manual therapy such as soft tissue massage, stretching, mobilisation, dry needling and the prescription of stretching and strengthening exercises may help to loosen off tight soft tissues, mobilise joints and improve your proprioception, strength and movement.
  • Osteopathy can also be helpful pre and post surgery for those individuals who are requiring or have had to undergo surgery due to the nature of their hip complaint.  The osteopath will provide hands on manual therapy and prescribe an appropriate program that will allow you to make a graded return to your pre injury activities.
  • In some cases your Osteopath may be required to refer for further assessment and investigation and this may be with one of our Trusted Professional Network of practitioners.
  • Your Osteopath may provide hands on Osteopathy or provide you with an exercise prescription / rehabilitation program.
  • Your Osteopath will provide you with a treatment and management program that educates and shows you how to better manage your condition through stretching, mobility and strengthening where appropriate.

To find out more about these conditions and how you can better treat and manage these conditions, please call 03 9670 9290 or book an appointment online to see one of our osteopaths at Principle Four Osteopathy.


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