I am a young dynamic athlete, why is my hip so stiff?

Femoroacetabulum impingement (FAI) can manifest in many different ways but all cases will
inevitably involve some form of hip stiffness, pain and/or weakness.  

FAI is the change in morphology at the top of the leg bone (femur) where it forms and
articulates with the pelvis (acetabulum) affecting the integrity of the hip joint.

There are two main types of FAI: Pincer lesions involving bone spurs of the acetabular rim and Cam lesions due to a change in the femoral head shape. 

These bony changes can lead to a change in the morphology and integrity of the hip joint,
and contribute to overloading of the hip joint surfaces and capsule. 

FAI Stiff Hip

FAI is a major contributor to hip pathologies including tears of the soft tissue
(labrum) that surrounds the joint, as well as early onset of osteoarthritis.
FAI is present in approx. 85% of young athletes with a hip complaint (Orchoa et
al, 2010).

Signs and symptoms:

  • Lateral Hip and/or groin pain
  • Sharp stabbing pain with twisting/turning/squatting
  • Decreased hip range of motion
  • History of hip clicking
  • Dull ache in the hip

If you are currently suffering from any of the above symptoms, differential diagnosis is
very important for prognosis and management of hip pain. 

Treatment from a Sports Lab physiotherapist will involve an extensive subjective and
objective assessment to determine the nature of the hip complaint and if
further diagnostic imaging or intervention is required. 

Treatment options can include manual therapy incorporating mobilisation of the hip joint,
pain management strategies, activity modification, deep tissue release with one
of our experienced deep tissue therapists and functional exercise prescription.

Consultation with an experienced Sports Physiotherapist at one of the Sports Lab clinics
will enable an individual management plan to be devised incorporating manual
treatment as well as a customised exercise program to address hip stability
specific to the athlete’s sport/activity as well as self-management strategies.

All questions and concerns should be directed towards Sports Lab staff across all

Andrew Waring

Head Physiotherapist SUANFC

Sports Lab Physiotherapist


Falvey E, King E,
Kinsella S, Franklyn-Miller A;
Athletic groin pain(part 1): a prospective
anatomical diagnosis of 382 patients-clinical findings, MRI findings and
patient-reported outcome measures at baseline.  Br J Sports Med. 2016 Apr:

Ochoa LM, Dawson L,
Patzkowski J, Hsu JR
.  Radiographic
prevalence of femoroacetebular impingement in a young population with hip
complaints is high. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2010 Oct; 468(10)2710-4.

Wright A, Hegedus E,
Taylor J, Dischiavi S, Stubbs
A. Non-operative management of
femoroacetabular impingement: A prospective, randomized controlled clinical
trial pilot study. J Sci Med Sport 2016 Jan 6,