416 Ilam Road, Fendalton, Christchurch 8052

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416 Ilam Road, Fendalton, Christchurch 8052

Clinic Hours: Monday-Friday 7am-8pm

Osteopathic Treatment Of Hip Labral Tears

Published by Better Health Osteopathy on 9 July 2023, Hip

Hip labral tears can be a source of persistent pain and discomfort, significantly affecting one’s quality of life and mobility. These tears, which occur in the cartilage lining of the hip joint, can result from repetitive movements, trauma, or previous underlying structural abnormalities. Whilst surgical intervention may be necessary for a very small number of patients. Non-surgical approaches, such as osteopathic treatment, offer an excellent path to healing and recovery. In this article, we will explore the role of osteopathic treatment of hip labral tears.

Osteopathy focuses on optimising the body’s inherent healing capacity by restoring musculoskeletal balance and improving overall function. Osteopathy will address the underlying factors contributing to the labral tear and support the body’s natural healing processes. Osteopathic treatment, therefore, aims to alleviate pain, enhance mobility, and promote a return to an active and pain-free life.


What Causes A Hip Labral Tear?

Various factors, including traumatic injuries and repetitive movements, can cause hip labral tears. Here are some common causes and contributing factors of hip labral tears:

  • Trauma or injury: A sudden, forceful injury to the hip joint. Such as a fall or slip or a direct blow that can cause a hip labral tear. These types of injuries may occur during sporting activities such as running, skiing and rugby or from other traumatic events.
  • Hip impingement: Femoroacetabular impingement (FAI). A common condition where there is abnormal contact between the ball and socket of the hip joint. FAI can lead to increased friction and pressure on the labrum, potentially causing tears over time.
  • Repetitive movements: Activities that involve repetitive hip movements or excessive twisting. These include sports such as soccer, hockey or ballet. Occupations that require repetitive hip flexion and rotation may also increase the risk of developing a hip labral tear.
  • Structural abnormalities: Structural abnormalities of the hip joint, such as developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH), can predispose individuals to hip labral tears. These conditions may result in an unstable or improperly shaped hip joint, leading to increased stress on the labrum.
  • Hip joint degeneration: Age-related changes, wear and tear, or degenerative conditions, such as osteoarthritis, can weaken the labrum over time, making it more susceptible to tears.
  • Hip hypermobility: Excessive joint laxity or hypermobility can increase the risk of hip labral tears. Individuals with hypermobile joints may have increased mobility and instability in the hip joint, potentially leading to labral tears.

However, not all individuals with these risk factors will develop hip labral tears. Each case is unique, and the interplay of multiple factors can contribute to the development of a tear.

Hip Labral tear osteopathy

How Are Hip Labral Tears Diagnosed?

To diagnose a hip labral tear, your Osteopath will first perform a physical examination. This exam will look for signs of hip instability or impingement. Osteopaths may also order imaging tests, such as an X-ray or MRI if needed.

Can Hip Labral Tears Heal Without Surgery?

In most cases, conservative management options such as osteopathic treatment will be recommended initially to alleviate symptoms, improve hip function and encourage the tear to heal. So not all hip labral tears will require surgical treatment. However, more complex and larger tears that are not responding to conservative treatment may require surgery.

Conservative Management Options For Hip Labral Tears May Include:

  • Rest and activity modification: Avoiding activities that aggravate the hip joint and allow it to rest and heal.
  • Osteopathic Treatment: Hands-on osteopathic treatment that aims to address the underlying cause of the labral tear, improve the range of movement in the hip, and provide pain relief. A rehabilitation programme will also be provided to encourage hip stability, strengthen the supporting hip muscles, and improve the range of movement in the hip.
  • Pain management: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or other pain medications may be prescribed by your GP to manage pain and reduce inflammation associated with the labral tear.
  • Injections: In some cases, corticosteroid injections may be administered to reduce inflammation and provide temporary pain relief. Your Osteopath can refer you to a specialist for these injections.

Osteopathic Treatment Of Hip Labral Tears? What Does This involve? 

The osteopathic treatment approach for a hip labral tear may involve a combination of osteopathic hands-on treatment, exercise prescription, and patient education. Here are some ways an osteopath may treat a hip labral tear:

  • Assessment and diagnosis: An osteopath will conduct a thorough evaluation to assess your hip joint, including range of motion, muscle strength, and any associated areas of dysfunction. This helps in identifying the specific issues contributing to the labral tear and tailoring the treatment plan accordingly.
  • Manual therapy: Osteopaths use hands-on techniques to address muscle imbalances, joint restrictions, and dysfunctions in the musculoskeletal system. This may involve gentle joint mobilisations, soft tissue techniques, and myofascial release to improve hip joint mobility, reduce muscle tension, and restore optimal movement patterns.
  • Rehabilitation exercises: Osteopaths often prescribe specific exercises and stretches to target muscle imbalances, improve hip stability, and enhance range of movement. These exercises may include strengthening the muscles around the hip joint and improving core stability.
  • Postural and ergonomic advice: Osteopaths can provide guidance on optimising posture and body mechanics to reduce stress on the hip joint and prevent further injury. They may suggest modifications to daily activities, work ergonomics, and sports techniques to support the healing process.
  • Pain management: Osteopaths can utilise various techniques to help manage pain associated with the hip labral tear. This may involve gentle soft tissue massage, joint articulation and manipulation, and providing advice on other pain management strategies.
  • Collaborative care: Our osteopaths work closely with other healthcare professionals, such as sports doctors and orthopaedic specialists in Christchurch, to ensure that you will get the best care available to you.

Please note that if the above conservative measures fail to alleviate symptoms or if the tear is severe, surgical intervention may be considered. Hip arthroscopy is a common procedure used to repair or remove the torn labrum.

What Are The Best Exercises For Rehabilitating Hip Labral Tears?

Rehabilitation exercises for hip labral tears are typically focused on strengthening the muscles around the hip joint, improving stability, and restoring range of motion. Each patient’s injury will present differently, and rehabilitation exercises should be tailored to their specific needs.  Here is an example of some commonly prescribed exercises for rehabilitating hip labral tears:

  1. Gluteal strengthening exercises: clamshells and hip bridges.
  2. Core stabilisation exercises: dead bug exercise, plank variations and pilates-based exercises.
  3. Hip range of motion exercises: hip circles.
  4. Hip flexor stretches: psoas stretches.
  5. Proprioception and balance exercises: single-leg balance exercise
  6. Low-impact cardiovascular exercises: such as cycling or stationary biking: Engage in low-impact cardiovascular activities to maintain overall fitness without putting excessive stress on the hip joint.

Remember, these exercises are general recommendations and should be modified or progressed based on individual abilities and limitations.  Your Osteopath will guide you through the rehabilitation process and ensure that your exercises are performed correctly and safely.

How Long will it Take for My Hip Labral Tear To Heal Without Surgery?

The healing time for a hip labral tear without surgery can vary depending on the severity of the tear, the individual’s overall health, and the effectiveness of the conservative treatment methods employed.  Some patients may experience significant improvement within a few weeks of osteopathic treatment, while others may require several months to achieve full recovery. It’s imperative to follow the treatment plan provided by your Osteopath, who will regularly assess your progress and makes adjustments to your treatment plan as necessary.

Surgical Treatment of Hip Labral Tears

Surgery may be necessary for severe cases of hip labral tears that have not responded to conservative treatment. Surgical options include hip arthroscopy, where a surgeon will make small incisions in the hip and use a small camera to visualise the hip joint and repair any tears in the labrum. Open surgery is also an option for hip labral tears.

Hip Labral Tear Osteopathic Treatment


Osteopathic treatment of hip labral tears offers a non-invasive alternative to surgery that focuses on promoting healing, restoring mobility, and relieving your hip pain. By addressing underlying factors, such as joint restrictions, muscle imbalances, and postural issues, your osteopath will work towards promoting the body’s natural healing processes.

Through osteopathic treatment, rehabilitation exercises, and education, our patients can experience significant improvements in their condition. Thus allowing our patients to return to an active and fulfilling life.

If you are dealing with a hip labral tear, consider consulting one of our osteopaths, who can assess your condition. Our Osteopaths will tailor a treatment plan to your specific needs and guide you towards recovery. Osteopathic care will focus not only on the hip joint injury but also on your overall well-being. We wish you all the best on your journey to recovery!

If you’re suffering from a hip labral tear, it may be time to book with one of our experienced Osteopaths. Contact the team at Better Health Osteopathy in Christchurch today. Call 027 755 5700 or book online.

Our Osteopaths are here to help!

Better Health Osteopathy

Lorraine Herity is the Clinic Director of Better Health Osteopathy in Christchurch, New Zealand. She previously worked in Osteopathic clinics in London and Ireland, before moving to New Zealand. Lorraine trained at the British School of Osteopathy in London, where she gained her Master of Osteopathy (M.Ost). Lorraine is a dedicated and passionate Osteopath. Her main aim is to help her patients regain their health and to return her patients back to their everyday activities, in as quick a time as possible. Lorraine is also a clinic tutor on the Osteopathic Course in Ara and relishes the opportunity to teach the next generation of osteopaths.