October 2011

Study finds cam-type hip deformity affects high intensity youth athletes

In the moment: Sports medicine

The risk of having an underlying hip deformity, known as cam impingement, is substantially higher among children and adolescents who engage in high intensity sports than in their nonathlete peers, and may increase their risk of future hip osteoarthritis, according to a study published this month in Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research.

Investigators from the University of Bern in Switzerland compared prevalence of cam-type deformities in athletes with a control group, retrospectively reviewing images of 72 hips in 37 male basketball players (mean age, 17.6 years; range, 9-25 years) and 76 asymptomatic hips of 38 age-matched volunteers who hadn’t played high-level sports.

They found 11 (15%) hips in the athletes had pain and positive anterior impingement tests. Internal hip rotation averaged 30.1° (range, 15°-45°) in controls, compared with 18.9° (range, 0°-45°) in athletes. The maximum alpha angle value throughout the anterosuperior head segment was larger in athletes (average, 60.5° ± 9°) than in controls (47.4° ± 4°). These differences were greater after physeal closure. Overall, athletes had a 10-fold increased risk of an alpha angle >55°.

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