Articular cartilage is the layer of material in the hip joint that covers the femur and hip socket, allowing them to move against each other without causing damage. At times, it will tear or become damaged due to wear and tear from high impact sports, hip impingement, or the natural aging process.

The most common symptoms of an articular cartilage injury is pain that is worse on movement of the joint, as well as redness or swelling around the joint. Upon examination, the joint may be tender.

Articular cartilage injuries may be caused by the following conditions:

Direct trauma to the joint can be caused by a sudden impact sustained in a fall or a sports injury.


Overuse injuries are caused by excessive use of a joint over time without allowing enough time for the body to recover.


Degenerative medical conditions, such as osteoarthritis, may cause injury or damage to the articular cartilage.

Articular cartilage injuries often occur in conjunction with other hip injuries.

How are articular cartilage injuries treated?

articular cartilage injuries

Initially, articular cartilage injuries are treated conservatively. Conservative treatment options may help ease some of the patient’s symptoms. Anti-inflammatory medications should reduce any inflammation and relieve pain and discomfort associated with this condition. In addition, physical therapy is extremely useful in helping patients regain their mobility. In some cases, steroid injections into the joint may also help reduce inflammation.

If the injury doesn’t respond to conservative treatment methods, surgery may be necessary. This may include arthroscopic surgery to wash out any loose fragments of cartilage, or shave and reshape the damaged cartilage.

In more extreme cases, joint replacement surgery may need to be performed. This can be debilitating and the patient may require a lengthy period of rehabilitation before they can get back to their regular routine.

For some, regenerative medicine can be a successful alternative. After receiving an injection of stem cells harvested from the patient’s own body, the patient will experience little-to-no down time.