As a doctor who sees patients with labral tears, there’s allot of confusion among patients about what’s injured when they hear the word “labrum”. Think about the labrum as the lip around the socket where the ball of the femur bone (hip bone) inserts. I’ve seen a number of patients get surgery for a torn labrum in the hip, some with good results, some not so good. Why? One of the issues appears to be the very large amounts of traction that need to be pulled on the hip to get the arthroscope into the hip. This can cause the major nerve of the leg to loose the ability to transmit signals as well as extreme stretching of critical hip ligaments. The second reason likely has more to do with the same reason meniscus surgeries have recently come under fire, removing parts and pieces of a joint as part of what we medical types call “debridement” may sometimes cause more problems than it solves. For example, this removeal of important structural tissue from the hip may cause a retear of the hip labrum. How can a torn hip labrum cause problems in the first place? Realize that the labrum is one of the things that helps the hip bone (femur) stay in it’s socket. So a tear may cause small amounts of extrra motion, especially with movement out to the side (as in figure skaters, horse back riding, and gymnastics). So if the repair of the torn labrum in the hip can actually help the lip of the hip socket (labrum) mend without adding additional trauma, then the surgery will be sucessful. However, if it’s just a “cut out the bad part” type surgery, then it may make the problem worse. Is there a better way without surgery and pulling 80-100 pounds of traction? Yes, we’ve had good success with injecting the patient’s own stem cells into the tear in the labrum, which helps provide new tissue and heal the tear. This procedure can be done through an injection, without the need for surgery and as a result, with much quicker recovery and less down time.