Hip pain is common among our athletic clientele at MOTUS. Although it’s often the result of an overuse or impact injury from sports, hip pain is sometimes caused by anatomic abnormalities. Such is the case with Femoral Acetabular Impingement (FAI) syndrome, a condition where some abnormality causes the ball and socket of the hip joint to contact prematurely.

The hip joint is made up of the femur (thigh bone) and the acetabulum (the socket part of the pelvis bone). A cartilage called the labrum surrounds the acetabulum in order to pad the two bones, acting as a shock absorber and additional support for the joint. When there are no injuries or anatomical abnormalities, the joint provides a wide range of motion for activities like running, soccer, dance, and gymnastics.

People with FAI do not have the luxury of this smooth range of motion. Instead, bone overgrowth causes abnormal contact between the femur and the acetabulum. This prevents proper activity and movement and, overtime, can cause osteoarthritis or labrum tears.

There are a few different variations of FAI syndrome. Cam morphology is more common in men and describes an abnormal shape of the femur bone where it meets the socket. The femur could be flattened or convex.


Pincer morphology is an abnormal shape of the acetabulum socket. The rim of the acetabulum may be overextended, providing too much coverage of the femur. This variation is more common in women. Experts estimate that 85% of patients with FAI syndrome have a little of both variations.

FAI syndrome may be more common than you think, affecting approximately 30% of the population. However, it can be present in asymptomatic people, so not everyone will notice symptoms.

Patients with FAI symptoms complain of a stiffness and pain in their hip, a direct result of abnormal movement. Our athletic patients usually describe the pain as worsening with movements like squats and running. We can control the pain associated with FAI syndrome by using innovative solutions like NMES, hot and cold therapy, and shockwave therapy.

Our overall goal is to help patients with FAI syndrome live and perform more comfortably. We evaluate each patient individually and develop a physical therapy plan that will address their unique anatomy. This could include hip and hamstring stretching, hip and abdominal strengthening, and balance exercises. We will work with you in our clinic and teach you how to take these stretches and exercises home so you can learn healthier movements for your body.


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