The socket of the hip joint (acetabulum) has a rim of rubbery fibrocartilage called the labrum. In addition to providing additional cushioning at the rim of the joint, the labrum acts as a gasket, sealing in fluid. This allows the joint fluid within the femoral head to be maintained, protecting the articular cartilage layers of the femur and acetabulum so that the ball of the thighbone (femur) moves easily and comfortably in the hip socket.
A tear of the labrum can occur from an injury, repetitive motion that causes wear, or degeneration from osteoarthritis. Often a person will have a labral tear, experience no symptoms, and require no treatment. In other cases, there may be pain or a “catching” feeling in the hip joint that may require treatment in the form of physical therapy, medications or surgery.