The purpose of this clinical commentary is to provide an evidence-based review of the examination process and diagnostic challenges associated with acetabular labral tears of the hip. Once considered an uncommon entity, labral tears have recently received wider recognition as a source of symptoms and functional limitation. Information regarding acetabular labral tears and their association to capsular laxity, femoral acetabular impingement (FAI), dysplasia of the acetabulum, and chondral lesions is emerging.
Physical therapists should understand the anatomical structures of the hip and recognize how the clinical presentation of labral tears is difficult to view isolated from other hip articular pathologies. Clinical examination should consider lumbopelvic and extra-articular pathologies in addition to intra-articular pathologies when assessing for the source of symptoms and functional limitation. If a labral tear is suspected, further diagnostic testing may be indicated. Although up-and-coming evidence suggests that information obtained from patient history and clinical examination can be useful, continued research is warranted to determine the diagnostic accuracy of our examination techniques.
J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2006:36(7):503-515. doi:10.2519/jospt.2006.2135
Key Words: diagnosis, labrum, MRI
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