Hypermobile hip dysplasia CAM FAIS

Whew, what a mouthful that is; hypermobile hip dysplasia CAM FAIS is all about chronic buttock, upper thigh and groin pain. It's nasty stuff, starting in the young person. Shall we discover what these terms mean? Understanding this huge, weight bearing joint can make the difference between a complete replacement, or not.

Yes, it's worth trying to grasp this material if you are suffering from upper leg and groin pain that won't resolve, or respond to current treatment. And remember too that it's hereditary; catching it early is vital for your children.

There are two conditions, one which causes stiffness in the young hip, and the other causing a very hypermobile joint; in other words, exact opposites. In this page we look at how femoro acetabular impingemnt syndrome and hip dysplasia can coexist in the same leg, confusing all and sundry.

First let's briefly consider each of these two conditions.

  • DDH and the hypermobile hip.
  • FAIS and the very stiff joint in the young person, who will of course become older, so you find it later in life too.

Hip dysplasia is characterised by a shallow acetabulum, or socket, that slopes upwards; the roof is not fully formed. In addition, a part of the ball is improperly roofed. It's caused by the foetus lying in utero in the wrong position. For more details of this phenomenon, and information about the Pavlik harness, see Developmental Hip dysplasia (DDH) ...

Pelvic x-ray showing a hypermobile CAM type of FAIS deformity.
Spot view of the hypermobile CAM type of FAIS deformity.

Hypermobile hip dysplasia CAM FAIS

Pavlik harness is a must if a baby is diagnosed with hip dysplasia.

Clinically, there is a greatly increased range of motion of the hip, in both the child and the young adult, with or without pain. Sitting in the lotus position is readily done, and they often make great gymnasts and sportsmen and women.

A clicking sound may be heard or felt as the ball subluxates in and out of the socket, depending on the shallowness of the socket, and the slope of the acetabular roof.

Beyond the immediate concerns of pain in the upper leg and hip, there is an increased tendency for early hip arthritis due to decreased area of contact between hip and acetabulum. Careful management of hip dysplasia is vital, and it fits well within the chiropractic domain; it often has a knock on affect on the sacro iliac joints.

However, the chiropractor must also address the hip joint itself and, in the infant with a clicking hip, in my opinion a paediatrician should also be consulted. Daily exercises are vital to strengthen the buttock and upper leg muscles to reduce the tendency of the hip to subluxate. The Pavlik harness must be worn for about four months to form a deeper socket.

Periodically, even in the young child, walking may be painful, either in the groin, or on the side of the hip; an even more serious condition, Perthes disease must be ruled out.

The hypermobile hip likewise has an increased range of motion, but without the developmental changes of the socket seen in DDH. Clicking sounds are less likely, but there may still be pain in the hip. The pain may radiate towards the knee and the inner thigh muscles; the adductors are often extremely tender on palpation.

This may be generalised hypermobility of all the joints of the body or, if it's limited to one or both hips, then we may think of it as a Grade I Development Hip Dysplasia. A mild case of HDD, but enough to cause pain.

Only an Xray can distinguish between hypermobility which is normal and hip dysplasia which certainly is not.

ASIDE: There is some debate between chiropractors as to whether hypERmobility (increased movement, highly flexible) or hypOmobility (stiff joints) is more serious . Both are a concern, but in my opinion, it's easier to loosen up stiff joints than to stabilise hypermobile joints. Both, unmanaged, lead to a higher incidence of arthritis.

CASEFILE: Hip dysplasia or Hypermobility? 

A young woman, 16-years old, I couldn't call her a child! recently consulted me with lower back, sacroiliac joint and groin pain particularly on standing and slow walking.

She had a long contradictory history of hip pain. Her mother was told by a paediatrician when the lass was only four that she urgently needed an operation on her hip for HDD; but at five a professor of child orthopaedics  said that there was no sign of HDD on X-ray, but that she was merely hypermobile. No treatment was needed. But hip and groin pain began at an earl age.

New X-rays confirmed the learned professor's advice: no hip dysplasia. But on examination, indeed a grossly increased hip range of motion and a sacro-iliac joint syndrome. It's going to take careful chiropractic management, and a vigorous exercise programme to keep this young woman from a life-long hip pain and ultimately perhaps hip arthritis.

Femoro Acetabular Impingement Syndrome (FAIS)

In general FAIS on the other hand causes a DECREASED range of motion in the hip (hypOmobility). It always comes as a surprise to find the appearance of stiffness of advanced hip arthritis in the examination of a young person. But no, not hip arthritis, but FAIS...

FAIS comes in two kinds and a mixture of the two:

  1. Pincer
  2. CAM
  3. Mixed Pincer / CAM is the most common.


Femoro Acetabular Impingement Syndrome, because of the reduced flow of synovial fluid through the joint, also leads to premature hip arthritis and total hip replacement if not carefully managed. Range of motion exercises, done on a daily basis, are vital.

Because of a change in gait, FAIS also affects the sacroiliac joint anatomy ... and the buttock and lower back muscles.

Short leg

Both these conditions, FAIS and DDH, are greatly exacerbated if there is a significantly short leg leading to a scoliosis. Leg length inequality needs to be carefully evaluated in every young person suffering from lower back and hip pain. Sometimes an inexpensive insert in the shoe could save them a life time of pain.

A short leg also occurs after Perthes disease.

There are concerns that once you start with chiropractic, you become a lifelong captive. It is a legitimate concern, and the truth is there is nothing more that some chiropractors would like than to make you into a life long patient. Same as the pharmaceutical companies want you to take their medications, like Statins for example, for life to lower your cholesterol instead of making the simple dietary changes necessary.

I say simple; actually new research suggesting it is high glycemic carbohydrate, and not animal fat that causes high cholesterol, has thrown dieticians into a quandry. What's more it's now be proved that there is no solid evidence that a change from butter to margarine has an iota of benefit; butter is back.

Both are completely unethical. Good doctors try to get you to make lifestyle changes, not take medicines for life, and good chiropractors try to persuade you to start exercising regularly, losing weight if necessary and perhaps going for a massage occasionally... instead of manipulation every few weeks.

Once you start poster.

  • Foods that lower cholesterol ...

Google appears to frown on too many links, so phrases in bold, like that above, need to be put into the Site Search function in the navigation bar on your left if you want more information.

Nevertheless, the truth is some conditions are serious and incurable and there is no alternative to becoming a lifelong patient. Hypermobile hip dysplasia CAM FAIS is one of them. It's as true of diabetes in the medical realm as these hip impingement and hypermobile hip deformities in the chiropractic realm. You will be a patient for life.

We can't cure you, nobody can, but we can ease the pain and disability, and do our level best to prevent it developing into a full-blown hip arthritis ...

Concerns of once you start... are no more valid that your dentist asking you to brush your teeth and come for a six month check up or your doctor sternly telling you that you must have your hypertension tested twice a year.

For the ethical doctor, dentist, chiropractor it's not about money. We earn quite enough. It's about an ounce of prevention, always better than a pound of cure.

But, it's true, there are rotten apples in every barrel. Greed prevails in every aspect of health care... carefully assess your doctor - is s/he interested in you, or your money? A hard question.

Mixed HYPERMOBILITY with a CAM deformity

Occasionally at the Chiropractic Coalface one comes up with bizarre cases of INCREASED range of motion but a FAIS deformity (expecting decreased ROM) is found on X-ray.

The long and the short of it is that hip and groin pain come in any number of shapes and sizes. All of these conditions, poorly managed, are far more likely to progress to premature hip arthritis and total hip replacement.

CASE FILE @ Hypermobile hip dysplasia CAM FAIS

Mrs B, 50 years old, has had bilateral knee pain since she was 16 years old; and lower back, midback and neck pain since she was 30 years old; and now left hip and groin pain for some five years.

She was diagnosed with "hypermobility" as a teen, and responded reasonably well to chiropractic treatment of her neck and back by another chiropractor, who did however not address her hip and knee problems.

X-ray of her knees revealed a condition called Chondrocalcinosis which causes Patello Femoral Pain Syndrome - kneecap pain.

Chondrocalcinosis is strongly associated with chronic arthritis and a magnesium deficiency. FRESH SPINACH RECIPES ... the richest source of magnesium.

Her knee responded well to a regimen of patella mobilisation to to gently grind down the fine calcium crystals forming in the HYALINE CARTILAGE ...,  knee exercises and a diet rich in magnesium.

However, her hip shows no signs of chondrocalcinosis or chronic arthritis. What it does show is HYPERMOBILE HIP DYSPLASIA CAM FAIS - a mixture of hypermobility and a CAM deformity. Ranges of motion of the hip were grossly increased and she had marked pain in the groin (capsule) as the CAM deformity came into contact with the labrum of the acetabulum; the lateral hip and the adductor muscles in the groin were very tender. The Faber test was not limited, but painful in the groin.

Patrick's Faber Fabere test.

X-rays @ Hypermobile hip dysplasia CAM FAIS

X-rays of her pelvis revealed no true hip dysplasia, perhaps a slight unroofing of the ball, but a CAM deformity, all aggravated by a short leg causing a lumbar scoliosis.

She responded well to sacroiliac joint adjustments, mobilisation of the hips, soft tissue therapy applied to the capsule and adductor muscles and a vigorous rehab program.

It remains to be seen what the long term prognosis is.

What is uncertain is what effect increasing the magnesium in her diet will have on all her joints. Only research in which patients with chondrocalcinosis are treated in different ways, one of which is an increase in mangnesium will reveal the overall effect of the mineral supplementation.

Orthotics to address the leg length discrepancy in the future is likely.

The specialised hip exercises at developmental hip dysplasia page are vital; like brushing teeth, they must be done life long.

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USEFUL LINKS @ Hypermobile hip dysplasia CAM FAIS

In short Hypermobile hip dysplasia CAM FAIS is a confusing condition, with mixed signs, but once recognised it too responds well to Chiropractic. Alas, you will be a life long patient. Accept it.

Did you find this page useful? Then perhaps forward it to a suffering friend. Better still, Tweet or Face Book it.

Interesting challenges of the day

1. Mr S is a 76 year old man with neck pain of some 9 months duration. Luckily, most of the discomfort is upper cervical which is only rarely arthritic; his lower cervical spine is a degenerative mess that I have left alone. After seven treatments his pain and stiffness is 50 percent better, and he is happy in the circumstances. He can sleep through the night now and that makes a huge difference.

2. Mr P is 32 year old man with very severe lower back pain radiating to the big toe which is 30 percent numb. He had an episode three weeks ago, took anti-inflammatories and was soon better as is typical of the medial disc herniation. But before it healed, after a trivia it came roaring back, much worse. The characteristic crossed sign was evident; sitting in a chair, straightening the right leg provoked severe left back pain and tingling in the leg. He is doing well.

3. Severe lower back pain is scary; just ask Mrs P. Just watching her get out of the car I she was in trouble; she had a slipped disc at L4 making her lean towards the opposite side; luckily she had no pain in the leg. Despite family pressure that this was far too severe for a chiropractor, she persevered. Within five days she was standing upright, and after two weeks almost pain-free. 

Despite a hectic job, she wisely took my advice and stayed home for what I call exercising bed rest.

4. Mr S has had lower back, groin and back of thigh and calf pain for fourth months.

He has a pincer deformity in the hip causing the stabs in the groin, and a degenerative facet causing the sciatica. Both are responding well to chiropractic and he is well pleased; sixty-five percent better after three treatments.

5. Mr T is a wise man; he has taken a warning TIA seriously and has lost 15 pounds, and has at least as much again to lose. A change to a low starch diet and half hour daily stroll has made the difference; but the walking is making his foot and back miserable. The expensive orthotic is hopeless; luckily his hips and back are fine, but he needs a simple heel lift; he has a short leg.

6. I too have had serious lower back issues, luckily fixed by my own chiropractor; so I too have to do my exercises, take care when lifting supers full of honey, gardening and using the chainsaw. Regaining the function of your spine is just as important as the pain.

7. My own granddaughter, only 7 is hypermobile giving her pelvic, knee and ankle issues. X-rays show a mildly dysplastic hip. Years ago we would have called it growing pains. She too regularly needs chiropractic care and luckily responds well. Increased range of motion is more difficult than too stiff in my opinion. Our care is for kids too.

8. This 65-year old lady is a serious gardener; every day she is bending, lifting and digging for 2 to 3 hours a day. It regularly catches her in the sacroiliac joint, so she has a treatment once a month that sorts it out. She does her lower back exercises faithfully.

9. This 88-year old lady is an inspiration; every day she is busy in the community. With a nasty scoliosis she manages very well with a chiropractic adjustment every six weeks and exercises faithfully done. 

10. Mr X is a 71-year old retired man who wants to continue with maintenance care every six to eight weeks; he had suffered from two years of lower back pain when he first came a few months ago. He has no discomfort now after 8 chiropractic treatments, but is aware that danger lurks.

11. Mrs C has been having severe headaches, and taking a lot of analgesics. It is a non-complicated upper cervical facet syndrome, and she is doing well.

12. Mr D is a 38-year old year man with chronic shoulder pain after a rotator cuff tear playing cricket. It responded well to treatment, but he knows he must do his exercises every day; for two years he could not sleep on that shoulder.

13. Mr D, a 71-year old man, has a severe ache in the shoulder and midback since working above his head. Trapped nerve tests are negative but he has advanced degenerative joints of Luschka; after just two treatments he is 50 percent better. Can we reach 90?

And so the day goes; chiropractors should not be treating the elderly most medical sites state but that is so much bunkum.

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Knowing that up to 70 percent of the time the correct diagnosis is made with no examination, no special tests, no xrays, but just from the history, there is a fair chance I can add some insight to your unresolved problem. But at least 30% of the time, I may be quite wrong. Give plenty of detail if you want a sensible reply.

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