Hip Pain & The FABER Test: The Facts

When it comes to assessing hip mobility and health, there are few tests as thorough and trusted as the FABER test – offering the perfect way to check up on hip health, and to look out for any problems that might be present. 

But what exactly is the FABER test, and what does the presence of hip pain indicate during the process? 

Hip Pain & The FABER Test: The Facts

What Is The FABER Test? 

Also known as ‘Patrick’s Test’, the FABER Test is performed as a means of measuring the pathology of the hip joint, as well as sacroiliac joint. 

Standing for ‘Flexion, ABduction, and External Rotation’, the FABER test involves the flexing of the leg, the abduction of the thigh, and the external rotation of the hip – with the purpose being the location and assessment of the hip joint condition, and the search for pain and disorders that might be present. 

What Does Hip Pain Indicate? 

During the FABER test, there are two ways in which hip pain can indicate other conditions and disorders. 


If the pain is felt on the ipsilateral side anteriorly – or ‘the front’ – then it is an indication that there might be a hip joint disorder on the same side as the pain. 


However, if the pain is felt on the contralateral side posteriorly – on the back – or around the sacroiliac joint, then this is an indication that the pain stems from dysfunction in that particular joint. 

How Does The Test Help?

The FABER test helps professionals to ascertain the source of the hip pain, which can then give them the knowledge and tools they need to proceed with the right treatment. 

This is a great way of examining a patient and determining their pain levels, and is one of the few ways to ascertain where the hip joint hurts, and how this is impacting the patient. 

While many might think an x-ray would be more beneficial – which it would be at a later date – it does not give an accurate indication of movement and pain levels, which is imperative for doctors to know before proceeding. 

What Could Pain Be Caused By? 

Of course, when it comes to hip pain, this could be an indication of numerous things – ranging from misalignment of the joint, to some more serious conditions and disorders. 

Generally speaking though, there are a few things that are more likely and common for patients to experience. 


Dislocation – or slight dislocation – of the joint could be the cause of the hip pain, especially that at the higher end of the pain spectrum. 

Strains & Sprains

Sprains and strains might also be the root cause of hip pain – and these can range from minor, to moderate, and severe, the latter of which can be completely debilitating in some instances. 

Injury & Trauma

It could also be caused by an injury or trauma to the hip joint – something that is easily done, especially if you work in a physically demanding job, over exercise while at the gym, or engage in anything else that is physically taxing. 

These injuries can often go unchecked and untreated, which then has the habit of encouraging further pain and discomfort as time goes on. 

Hip Pain & The FABER Test: The Facts


Alternatively, prolonged hip pain and discomfort could be caused by arthritis – something that is common throughout society. 

This can cause swelling and tenderness at the hip joint, and has common symptoms of pain, stiffness, joint swelling, knee or hip pain, and redness of the affected area. 

There is unfortunately no cure for arthritis, but doctors can prescribe painkillers to help you cope, and physical therapy and exercise to strengthen the surrounding muscles in affected areas. 

By doing this, the individual can then regain some of their strength, mobility, and hopefully diminish their pain (or increase their own tolerance). 


It could also be a result of sciatica – a condition in which the sciatic nerve becomes compressed or injured, and which causes pain and inflammation from the back, hip, and outer leg. 

This is also a common ailment, and can be caused by all manner of things – such as injuring your back at work, over exercising in the gym, or damaging your back in hectic activity. 

This is known to be especially painful, and can cause all manner of symptoms, including: 

  • Intense pain radiating from the back, hip, or leg. 
  • Difficulty moving the leg. 
  • Pain that becomes worse when sitting down. 

Trochanteric Bursitis

It could also be caused by trochanteric bursitis, a disorder caused when the bursa – a fluid filled sack near the hip joint – becomes inflamed. 

This can be caused by a general hip injury, by overuse of the joints, or problems with general, everyday bodily posture. 

What Are The Treatment Options? 

Of course, the actual treatment options will differ depending on the actual source of the pain. However, there are some general treatments that are commonly offered to sufferers of hip pain. 

Physical Therapy

Doctors will more than likely prescribe physical therapy and exercise to help promote movement, work the muscles of the affected area, and alleviate some of the pain that you might be experiencing. 

This could also include massage therapy – which can be good for loosening the muscles, working the connective tissue, and providing some relief overall. 


Your doctor will probably also prescribe some medication or painkillers to help you cope with the pain caused by your hip.

This can range anywhere from over the counter pills to prescription painkillers, and will very much depend on the nature of your condition, and the opinion of your doctor. 

However, with more serious painkillers, it is important to understand the potential side effects that might occur – particularly with stronger, habit forming drugs in the opiate family, many of which have been known to cause addiction and dependency in users. 

Final Thoughts

And there we have it, everything you need to know about the FABER test, and what hip pain can indicate if you experience it during the process. 

It’s true that there are few practices as useful for understanding hip mobility like the FABER test – offering those with potential problems the perfect way to be examined by a medical professional.

However, if you are suffering from pain during the process, then this can be a sign that everything is not in fact right. 

So if you want to know more about hip pain during the FABER test, then be sure to refer to this handy guide. Something tells me you won’t be disappointed!

Laura Simmons

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