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Sports Health. 2014 Mar;6(2):108-18. doi: 10.1177/1941738114522201.

The recognition and evaluation of patterns of compensatory injury in patients with mechanical hip pain.

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Rothman Institute at Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
MedSport, Division of Sports Medicine and Shoulder Surgery, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Clinic of Kansas City, Kansas City, Missouri.
Select Specialty Hospital-Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.



In active individuals with femoroacetabular impingement (FAI), the resultant reduction in functional range of motion leads to high impaction loads at terminal ranges. These increased forces result in compensatory effects on bony and soft tissue structures within the hip joint and hemipelvis. An algorithm is useful in evaluating athletes with pre-arthritic, mechanical hip pain and associated compensatory disorders.


A literature search was performed by a review of PubMed articles published from 1976 to 2013.


Level 4.


Increased stresses across the bony hemipelvis result when athletes with FAI attempt to achieve supraphysiologic, terminal ranges of motion (ROM) through the hip joint required for athletic competition. This can manifest as pain within the pubic joint (osteitis pubis), sacroiliac joint, and lumbosacral spine. Subclinical posterior hip instability may result when attempts to increase hip flexion and internal rotation are not compensated for by increased motion through the hemipelvis. Prominence of the anterior inferior iliac spine (AIIS) at the level of the acetabular rim can result in impingement of the anterior hip joint capsule or iliocapsularis muscle origin against the femoral head-neck junction, resulting in a distinct form of mechanical hip impingement (AIIS subspine impingement). Iliopsoas impingement (IPI) has also been described as an etiology for anterior hip pain. IPI results in a typical 3-o'clock labral tear as well as an inflamed capsule in close proximity to the overlying iliopsoas tendon. Injury in athletic pubalgia occurs during high-energy twisting activities in which abnormal hip ROM and resultant pelvic motion lead to shearing across the pubic symphysis.


Failure to recognize and address concomitant compensatory injury patterns associated with intra-articular hip pathology can result in significant disability and persistent symptoms in athletes with pre-arthritic, mechanical hip pain.




athletic pubalgia; compensatory injury; femoroacetabular impingement; hip; iliopsoas impingement

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