FAI is when the shape of the hip joint is compromised by irregular bone growth on either side of
the joint. The irregular shape of the hip joint leads to bones coming into contact with each other
during certain movements, and therefore the term “impingement” is used. It is often seen in
healthy and active individuals, typically between 25 and 50 years of age. Not all people with hip
incongruence will develop FAI.

Common symptoms experienced in patients with FAI include:
● Stiffness over the groin area
● Pain over the front thigh/groin or buttocks area
● A clicking sensation at the front of the hip with movements
● Loss of full motion in the hip
● Deep discomfort of the hip intermittently after or during certain activities
● Loss of performance in sporting activities due to hip discomfort or pain

Increased proximity between joint structures predispose the hip to cartilage and bone damage.
Due to the incongruence of the joint, movement of the hip will be affected and compensatory
mechanisms are employed during activities, specifically during dynamic weight-bearing
movements. An example of this type of movement can be seen in a football player, when the
player is standing on one leg and twisting at the hip to kick the ball with the opposite leg. The
body reflexively starts to avoid these painful movements. This leads to general weakness of the
muscles around the hip. It has also been found that FAI can influence the way an individual
walks, highlighting the need to retrain movement patterns of those with this condition.

Long-term prognosis
FAI might lead to development of osteoarthritic changes of the hip that can in turn cause other
problems for individuals when they become older. For this reason, early and continuous
management strategies should be implemented when this syndrome is diagnosed. There are
various options of managing this condition, and your physiotherapist will educate you on this
according to the assessment findings.

During your physiotherapy visit, your physiotherapist will interpret the history of the condition
and perform various physical tests to determine what the cause of your complaint could be. The
focus of treatment of FAI will be on managing your pain, adapting activities appropriately and
strengthening weak and underactive muscles. Sport-specific exercises will form part of
treatment and sporting activities might be adapted initially by your physiotherapist to enable the
best outcome.