Are you a candidate for hip arthroscopy?

While persistent hip pain can be an indication of a serious degenerative condition such as osteoarthritis, it can also be caused by other abnormalities in the hip. Most commonly, these involve a tear in the cartilage that surrounds the socket of the hip (the labrum) or fragments of bone or cartilage that are floating inside the joint. Another condition called femoroacetabular impingement (FAI), or hip impingement, results in abnormal contact between the femur bone and the rim of the socket. This typically causes pain with activities requiring hip movement and can lead to tears in the labrum or even to osteoarthritis.

The hip arthroscopy procedure

While you are under anesthesia, your orthopedic surgeon will make small incisions in your hip and insert one or more flexible instruments about the size of a drinking straw. These instruments include a light source and a tiny camera that allow your surgeon to view the damaged area. Using specialized instruments, your orthopedic surgeon may elect to cut out and remove the torn piece of cartilage in your hip or may repair the tear with sutures. Bone also may be removed in an attempt to prevent further damage from impingement.

What to expect from hip arthroscopy

The small instruments used in arthroscopic surgery minimize the damage and discomfort from this surgery. If no bone is removed during the surgery, you will be able to walk almost immediately using crutches. If your surgeon removes bone to prevent impingement, you will not be allowed to bear weight for several weeks. Your surgeon may give you some exercises to do. After about a week, the stitches will be removed and you will be able to get into a pool to do more extensive exercises for your hip. Within two weeks, pain and inflammation should be considerably reduced, but you will need to continue exercising your hip as directed. It is possible that you will eventually need additional hip surgery, but an arthroscopic repair can last for a number of years.