Femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) is recognised as a source of hip pain but the effect of conservative treatment remains untested. This pilot study aimed to inform and evaluate the methods required to conduct a substantive trial comparing the effect of treatment by a physiotherapist versus routine care on the symptoms of FAI.
A parallel group, pilot randomised controlled trial (RCT).
A single NHS acute hospital trust, Devon, England.
30 adults with symptomatic FAI were recruited. 23 (77%) completed the study.
Intervention was 3 months of treatment by a specialist physiotherapist. The control group received routine care.
Change in pain and function was measured using a Visual Analogue Scale, Non Arthritic Hip Score (NAHS), Lower Extremity Functional Score (LEFS) and Hip Outcome Score.
Participants in the intervention arm undertook a personalised exercise programme to improve pelvic and femoral control plus advice on posture, activity pacing and pain relief. The mean change in NAHS for the intervention group was 12.7 (95% CI 4.7 to 20.7) and 1.8 (95% CI −5.3 to 9.0) in the control group; Median change in LEFS was 11.5 (95% CI 5.0 to 26.0) versus −1.0 (95% CI −7.0 to 4.0). This improvement in LEFS was beyond minimal clinically important difference in the intervention group. Pain scores improved marginally in both groups.
Methodological strengths and weaknesses were successfully identified for a substantive study. Further research is needed to evaluate the relative influence of structural and neuromuscular features on symptoms of FAI and the role of conservative treatment.