Hip Arthroscopy

Nothing is quite like the pain you experience in your hips. Human anatomy puts pressure on your hips when you stand, sit or lay on your side, making it nearly impossible to avoid hip pain in most positions. Compared to Hip Replacements, Hip Arthroscopies are a relatively new procedure used to alleviate hip pain in individuals who do not yet qualify for a replacement.

In this article we will discuss:

  • What is a hip arthroscopy procedure and what is recovery like?
  • What type of patients normally benefit from a hip arthroscopy?
  • What are the alternatives?
  • Why are hip arthroscopies less common than other procedures?

What is a hip arthroscopy procedure and what is recovery like?

A hip arthroscopy (or hip scope) is a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure in which small incisions are made at the hip to diagnose and treat an array of issues at the hip joint and surrounding areas. A small camera and medical instruments (roughly the size of a pen) are used to find the problem and correct it, reducing scar size and recovery time. Recovery varies based on the severity of the hip condition, but you can expect downtime to be similar to that of a shoulder or knee scope procedure. Soreness and limited movement can be expected for a few weeks. Hip scope procedures are often paired with physical therapy to strengthen the muscles, decrease recovery time and get you back to doing what you love feeling stronger and without pain.

What type of patients normally benefit from a hip arthroscopy?

Patients with groin, hip and/or buttock pain tend to be great candidates for a hip scope procedure. Hip pain is not exclusive to one demographic, however it tends to be more common in athletes who’s positions involve a lot of hip flection, like baseball catchers and runners, and in the elderly from arthritis. Hip scopes are also suited for patients who (for one reason or another) are not candidates for a hip replacement procedure.

Mechanical symptoms such as locking and catching feelings are usually signs of a problem in the hip joint that a hip arthroscopy would be able to diagnose and treat. Cartilage injury and pathology are also reasons to perform a hip scope.

What are the alternatives?

A more conservative course of treatment should always be your starting point. For acute pain, occasionally icing, rest and ant-inflammatory pain medication can be a good short term fix. As the severity increases, physical therapy will often be used as the first treatment route. Physical therapy can help increase strength, balance and endurance. Stabilizing your core, leg and back muscles can help build hip strength and reduce pain and swelling. A hip scope is used as the next alternative if therapy fails, preventing a patient from needing a hip replacement in the future. Occasionally in degenerative cases, arthritis in the hip progresses to far and a hip replacement may be necessary.

Why are hip arthroscopies less common than other procedures?

Compared to a knee or shoulder arthroscopy, hip arthroscopies are a relatively new procedure. Because it has not been around as long as others, the cases can be seen as more technically demanding, which deters some physicians from wanting to perform them. Additionally, being a newer procedure, most orthopedic surgeons do not have experience in hip scope procedures simply because they have not had the opportunity to receive proper training.


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