Signs Your Chronic Hip Pain Could Be Hip Impingement

If you’ve been experiencing pain in your hip or groin when you walk or attempt to participate in your favorite recreational activity, it could be a sign of hip impingement. This means the head of your thigh bone (the ball) doesn’t fit perfectly into your hip socket for one reason or another. 

Here at Northland Orthopedic & Sports Medicine in Kansas CIty, Missouri, our team of experienced orthopedic physicians and hip specialists can determine if your hip pain is a sign of hip impingement. And if that’s the case, we can recommend effective treatment to get you back in the game, or simply back to your daily activities with less pain. 

Your hip ball-and-socket joint explained

The reason your hip joints work well and allow you to move your legs in many directions is because of the way the bones fit together. The round top of your thigh bone — the femoral head — is designed to fit snugly into your hip socket like a baseball fits into a glove. A protective lining of smooth cartilage cushions the space between the top of your thigh bone and the hip socket so they don’t rub against each other and cause pain. The socket also has special cartilage — the labrum — that helps hold the head of the thigh bone in place in the hip socket. 

When something isn’t quite right with any of these moving parts, or you injure your hip, you may experience hip impingement. Hip impingement can occur any time, but it often occurs in the teen and young adult years, when you’re more likely to engage in competitive sports and strenuous physical activity. 

Symptoms of hip impingement 

At first, you may just feel like you pulled a muscle, as your symptoms may be mild. For example, you might notice stiffness in one of your hips or the groin area on one side. As the condition progresses, though, your symptoms may become more pronounced, including: 

If these symptoms persist, it could be a sign that your pain is more than a pulled muscle or stiff joint. Let our team of physicians evaluate you to determine if you are experiencing a hip impingement. 

Causes of hip impingement

You could have a hip impingement as a result of a congenital defect, meaning one of your hip ball-and-socket joints may have been slightly abnormal from birth. It’s also possible that your hip bones didn’t develop normally during childhood as you were growing. Another common cause of hip impingement is recreational sports, including professional and leisure activities. 


Hip impingement can happen with any physical activity but is common in dancers or gymnasts, soccer, football, and hockey.

Cam impingement

Because of repetitive hip motions, a bone spur can develop and deform the shape of the ball so it doesn’t fit properly in the socket. This is called cam impingement. 

Pincer impingement

Another form of impingement can occur when the neck of your femur bone bumps the rim of the socket and grinds it. This is called pincer impingement and can result in cartilage and labrum damage and tearing, as well. 

When you have both conditions at the same time — a problem with the ball joint and grinding in the socket — you have cam and pincer impingement, or combined impingement. Left untreated, any form of hip impingement may lead to arthritis in your hip joint. 

Our experienced hip specialists are well versed in both operative and non-operative care of the hip including arthroscopic labral repair as well as in-office ultrasound-guided hip injections.

Don’t wait until the pain is unbearable or severely limits your activity. Give us a call at 816-841-3805 to schedule an evaluation, or contact us online today. 

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