Ice hockey player on the ice, outdoors

Femoroacetabular Impingement (FAI)

What is an Femoroacetabular Impingement (FAI)?

  • A structural adaptation found in hockey players
  • Abnormal contact between the ball and rim/socket during activity
  • Results from a ball that is not perfectly round (CAM) or a socket that is too deep (PINCER)
  • Repetitive impingement leads to “pinching” of the labrum between the ball and socket
  • Labral tears are common and often do not cause pain
  • Important to recognize and treat the underlying impingement
  • FAI presents as decreased hip flexion and internal rotation range of motion


A Recent Study

FAI research is in progress.  The study looked at youth hockey players from 10-18 years of age, and compared their age to prevalence of FAI and labral tears.  The results are eye opening. The table below summarizes the findings.


Age FAI Prevalence Labral Tear Prevalence
10-12 37% 48%
13-15 63% 63%
16-19 93% 93%

Signs and Symptoms

  • Deep sharp groin pain
  • Worse with quick turns
  • Limited hip rotation/flexibility/stiffness
  • Unable to sit for prolonged periods
  • Groin / Front of the hip pain after activity

PT’s Can Rule Out 

  • Rule out muscle and tendon strains, contusions, fractures, Athletic pubalgia (sports hernia)
  • The study did not report if these athletes were symptomatic. Since FAI’s are bony abnormalities it is not possible to “stretch” someone into new ranges if they have FAI because those ranges will not be available. Develop appropriate exercise accommodations and individualized programming to ensure that the athlete does not approach end range during training sessions
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