Butler Journal of Undergraduate Research


The acetabulofemoral joint, more commonly referred to as the hip joint, is an extremely important mechanism of the human body. It plays a crucial role in a person’s ability to sit and stand, walk and run, jump and crouch, and more. Not only this, but the hip joint bears most of the weight of the body, making it necessary for the joint and surrounding anatomical structures to be strong and stable. Fortunately, hip joints are built in a way that allows for an extreme range of motion while simultaneously providing support for the rest of the body. Additionally, the ball-and-socket construction of the hip joint makes it possible to flex and extend, abduct and adduct, and rotate the legs. In other words, the legs are able to move in nearly every direction, including forward and backward as well as outward and inward, and also rotate externally and internally. Composed of bones, cartilage, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and a synovial membrane, the hip joint is required to be a well-oiled machine; however, the structural complexity and physical demand of the hip joint can make it susceptible to inflammation, degeneration, and chronic and acute injuries. Athletes, who naturally demand more from their bodies, place even more pressure on the hip joints. Classical ballet in particular requires the complex acetabulofemoral joint to move in every conceivable direction. As such, classical ballet dancers can become more prone to acetabular labral tears, a chronic, degenerative condition that affects the cartilage between the acetabulum and femoral head. Although such an injury can be treated conservatively or more aggressively—with arthroscopic surgery—dancers value every possible second of dancing, so to what extent can classical ballet dancers with acetabular labral tears safely manage their pain without the need for arthroscopic surgery?