hip preservation

Hip pain? Replacement surgery may not be the only option

Dr. Stephen Duncan

Dr. Stephen Duncan

Written by Dr. Stephen Duncan, an orthopaedic surgeon at UK Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine.

Individuals today are more active than previous generations. Although this means improved health and wellness for many of us, it also means more wear and tear on our joints.

Patients young and old can experience pain in their hip joints. Although hip arthritis might be the first culprit to come to mind, there are other causes of hip pain that are aren’t as well known.

Some of these conditions, such as labrum tears, can be treated through hip preservation surgery – a treatment option that provides relief in lieu of a hip replacement and allow physically active people to get back to doing the things they love as quickly as possible. Hip preservation is one of my specialties, and as an avid cyclist myself, I understand the importance of staying active.

Labrum tears

While we are growing as adolescents, there is a growth plate in our femur bone located in the hip joint. Research has shown that individuals who participate in activities that require repetitive hip flexion (when the femur moves closer to the chest) are at risk for this growth plate to react and form extra bone. This is called a CAM lesion.

The CAM lesion is a bump on the femur that can eventually tear the hip’s labrum – a piece of cartilage that helps form the suction seal of the hip joint. When the labrum is torn, you can experience pain in the hip and groin area.

Hip preservation

Pain related to a tear in the labrum can be improved with hip preservation surgery called hip arthroscopy.

Hip arthroscopy involves making tiny holes in the skin that allow us to place a camera and our instruments into the hip joint to fix the torn labrum.

It’s an outpatient procedure takes about two hours to perform, and patients will be on crutches for about two weeks afterward. The hardest part is the recovery after surgery. Although the hip may feel great initially, the body still needs to heal. This takes a minimum of three months.

Folks looking to return to recreational or even competitive sports will be out of action for four to six months. The good news is studies have shown that patients do return to their preinjury level of play following surgery. This surgery might also help to prevent or delay the progression of hip arthritis and help patients avoid a hip replacement in the future. However, more research is needed to determine if this is the case.

If you think you might be a candidate for hip preservation, call UK Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine at 800-333-8874.


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