Labral Tears in a Young Dancer

Hello Lisa,

Would you give some advice on hip labral tears and what to do about them? My daughter is 14 and in a professional ballet training program but a large hip labral tear was just discovered and she has been told she has to stop dancing for a while and likely have surgery to repair the tear. She had an injury to the front her hip joint last fall but worked extensively on alignment and technique improvement and it went away except that her turnout did not go back to 180. She does not have pain. If she is not very careful is this likely to keep tearing? Why would she have no pain? Do you think surgery is essential and in your experience can people go back to high level dance afterward? Thanks for any thoughts. We really find your materials excellent!

Hi Mindi, and thanks for your question.

Yes, Labral tears can be very tricky to work with, and surgery is often recommended. However, in this situation, if she has no pain, I would definitely get a second opinion before going down the surgical path. If she has been rehabilitated correctly and has no pain, then I would encourage her to keep working on perfecting her technique. If you have not already purchased our Training Turnout manual I would highly advise that you get a copy as this explains lots of safe exercises for the hip to help improve control en l'air without putting pressure on the labrum.


No, I do not believe that surgery is essential, and there are many professional classical dancers who have labral tears who can keep performing and do not get any pain. As the cartilage of the hip joint does not have very many nerve endings it is possible to have a tear in it without pain. Pain usually comes from the inflammation of the tissues around the joint in response to excessive mobility or compression.

In regards to it having the potential to keep tearing, yes, this is a possibility, however, I do not believe that this risk would be reduced following surgery. Any surgical procedure that requires opening the capsule of a joint will have ramifications on the mobility and function of that joint after the fact, so it is something that needs to be carefully considered.

That being said, there are many dancers who have had surgical procedures on their hip and have also returned to a full professional working load and feel much better for it, so this really must be determined on a case by case basis by your treating doctor.

As a general rule of thumb, I only look at surgery as an option if we are unable to get the dancer back performing without pain. It sounds like your daughter has achieved this so I would delay the surgery a little if at all possible.

I hope that this helps!

Kind regards,
Lisa Howell

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