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Physical impairments in symptomatic femoroacetabular impingement: a systematic review of the evidence


Background Femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) and associated pathologies are associated with pain and reduced quality of life. Physical impairments can be associated with worse symptoms and may be an important target of rehabilitation programmes in this patient group. Knowledge regarding physical impairments in people with symptomatic FAI is limited.

Hypothesis In adults aged 18–50 years with symptomatic FAI: (1) to identify physical impairments in range of motion (ROM), hip muscle function and functional tasks; (2) to compare physical impairments with healthy controls; and (3) to evaluate the effects of interventions targeting physical impairments.

Study design Systematic review.

Methods A systematic review of the literature was conducted in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses statement. The modified Downs and Black checklist was used for quality appraisal. Studies of adults aged 18–50 years with symptomatic FAI that examined ROM, hip muscle function and functional tasks were included. Standardised mean differences were calculated where possible or best evidence synthesis and study conclusions were presented.

Results Twenty-two studies fulfilled all inclusion criteria. Methodological quality was varied. Results for hip joint ROM differences between people with symptomatic FAI compared and control subjects were varied. People with symptomatic FAI demonstrated some deficits in hip muscle strength and reduced balance on one leg when compared with control subjects. For hip joint ROM and hip muscle strength results for within-group differences between preintervention and postintervention time points were limited and inconclusive. No randomised controlled trials evaluated the effect of different types of interventions for symptomatic patients with symptomatic FAI.

Conclusions People with symptomatic FAI demonstrate impairments in some hip muscle strength and single leg balance. This information may assist therapists in providing targeted rehabilitation programmes for people with FAI and associated pathology. Further research is needed to determine whether symptomatic FAI affects other aspects of functional performance; and to evaluate whether targeted interventions are effective in symptomatic FAI.

Clinical relevance This information may assist therapists in providing targeted rehabilitation programmes for people with symptomatic FAI.

  • hip
  • strength
  • femoro-acetabular impingement
  • functional
  • muscle strength
  • physical impairment
  • range of motion

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