Hip Preservation for Athletes

What is Hip Preservation?

Over the past decade, our ability to understand and treat hip problems in younger people has improved dramatically. Hip preservation is a simple way of saying that we are going to focus our treatment efforts on correcting the physical form and function of a hip so our patients can get back to the activities they love. This requires a different approach than we use with older patients with arthritis.

Who are Good Candidates for Hip Preservation?

Generally, people under the age of 50 with chronic hip pain or problems that result in a labral tear. The labrum is a ring of cartilage that deepens the hip socket and helps hold the femur, or upper leg bone, in your hip socket. Labral tears are most often caused by a traumatic injury, instability, impingement (FAI) or dysplasia. The most common symptoms are deep pain and a ‘popping’ feeling in the groin or hip area.

Athletes or otherwise active individuals are most susceptible to a hip injuries or pain. Most think of hip pain as a problem for older adults and are surprised to find it’s become a problem for them. Because of this stigma, many try to get by on over-the-counter pain control and are reluctant to seek medical attention. However, this is dangerous, because we know if left untreated, hip problems can lead to earlier hip arthritis, total hip replacement and revision surgeries later in life. Therefore, it is crucial to seek treatment early.

What is Typically Done?

The first goal is to avoid surgery. However, for many young, active people, rest, physical therapy, medications or injections do not provide adequate relief. Hip preservation surgery is generally referred to as hip arthroscopy, or a hip scope. This means that using a microscopic camera, a surgeon can see the damage to the labrum and repair or reconstruct it according to best practice all within a few hours. Also, many labral tears are caused by abnormal bone development of the femur or acetabulum (socket), which is also corrected during surgery. This is also called minimally invasive surgery.

What is the Prognosis for those with Hip Preservation?

It is highly individualized based on the root cause of the hip problem. While surgery is necessary for many people eventually and recovery is challenging, most patients report a full return to athletic form in 4-6 months following surgery. 

OrthoNebraska evaluates more patients and performs more Hip Preservation surgeries than any other provider in Nebraska, performing over two hundred of these surgeries each year. To make an appointment, call (402) 637-0800.

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