The hip joint is one of the largest joints in the body. It connects the leg with the structures of the pelvis and trunk. The primary function of the hip is to support the body during standing, walking, running, and other movements. Injury and disease can disrupt the function and structure of the hip, causing pain and limiting your range of motion.
A hip arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure that can help to diagnose and treat hip joint pain. Specifically, those who haven’t responded to conservative treatments may benefit from this procedure.
The hip is a ball-and-socket joint. The “ball” is located at the top of your leg bone (or femur). This ball fits into the socket of your pelvis bone, also known as the acetabulum. Soft tissues like cartilage and ligaments keep this joint stable and promote movement. In addition, a thick, slippery lubricant, known as synovial fluid, cushions the bones and functions to make these movements easier.
Hip joint pain occurs for a variety of reasons. As we age, wear and tear on the joint can cause the cartilage to break down, allowing our bones to rub together. Sometimes high-impact activities like running can hasten this process. Furthermore, injuries or traumas like falls can affect the structure of the hip, leading to additional pain. A hip arthroscopy can not only diagnose the cause of your hip pain, but it can also help to relieve it.
During a hip arthroscopy procedure, an orthopedic surgeon inserts a tiny camera, known as an arthroscope, into the affected area. The camera displays pictures on a nearby screen to give the surgeon a better visualization of the hip joint and its network of surrounding tissues.
During this procedure, your leg will be secured using a traction table, so that the surgeon will have better access to your hip joint. Likewise, your surgeon will most likely use general anesthesia to ensure a successful procedure. Using a small incision, your doctor will then insert the arthroscope and evaluate your joint.
The surgeon will reach a diagnosis using the images from the arthroscope. Then, other tiny instruments may be used to surgically repair the damaged part of the hip. Sometimes the surgeon will need to make one or two more small incisions during the operation. Since there are different treatments based on the condition of your hip, the length of the procedure varies.
After surgically repairing the area, the surgeon with stitch the incision(s) and apply dressings.
Orthopedists use this procedure to treat a variety of hip problems, including:
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Hip arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure that uses a small incision. Open hip surgeries often rely on an incision up to seven inches long. A minimally invasive hip arthroscopy, however, only tends to need an incision about the diameter of a pencil for the camera and other tools to access the hip joint. This smaller incision also means less unsightly scarring.
Since less damage is caused by a minimally invasive hip surgery, one can expect to experience faster recovery times and less post-surgical pain. This means less reliance on medications, such as dependence-causing opioids, to ease the pain.
In addition, a hip arthroscopy is usually an outpatient procedure. Open hip surgeries can have a recovery time up to five days in the hospital. With minimally invasive hip surgery, you may be able to start your recovery at home the same day.
Hip arthroscopies may also delay hip arthritis and the need for a hip replacement if used to treat hip conditions in their early stages.
After surgery, you will need to stay in a recovery room up to two hours, so your doctors can monitor you while the anesthesia wears off. Once you are medically cleared, you will receive specific instructions about what you can and cannot do during the first several days of your recovery.
Since you will likely experience some pain or a lack of mobility after your procedure, you will need to find a ride home and someone to assist you for the first day or two. Most people are given crutches or a walker to avoid bearing too much weight on the hip. The length of time you should use crutches will depend on the procedure itself and how fast your body heals.
Pain medications are usually prescribed for short-term pain relief. These may be prescription or over-the-counter pain medications. Be sure to use these as directed, because some prescription pain medications can be habit-forming.
During your recovery period, you may also need physical therapy to help strengthen the area and restore your range of motion. A physical therapist performs manual manipulation to work the muscles and increase flexibility. In addition, a physical therapist can suggest specific exercises that you can do at home to help your hip function better.
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Typically, doctors prefer to prescribe more conservative treatments for hip problems before performing a hip arthroscopy. Initially, a doctor may prescribe treatments such as resting the area, lifestyle changes, physical therapy, or pain medications. Some people even find pain relief from conservative interventions, like massage therapy or a chiropractor visit to adjust your hip alignment.
If your pain doesn’t go away and makes everyday activities like walking difficult, a hip arthroscopy may be suggested.
Receiving a thorough medical examination is the best way to determine if a hip arthroscopy is appropriate for you. This should include a complete medical history and description of your symptoms as well as when they started. The doctor will complete a physical examination and may order imaging tests like X-rays or MRIs to better understand your hip problems.
Prior to receiving a hip arthroscopy, your surgeon will need to know if you have any allergies or health problems that may interfere with the procedure.
If your hip joint pain is threatening the quality of your life, you want to make sure that you know every option available. NJ Spine & Orthopedic has a dedicated team of hip doctors ready to empower you with the best choices to treat your hip pain. Our comprehensive services include conservative methods as well as the latest approaches to minimally invasive procedures such as hip arthroscopy.
At NJ Spine & Orthopedic, you will have a team of experts by your side during every step of your recovery. From your initial diagnosis to when you finally achieve a pain-free life again, we want to be a part of your success. Find out how we can help by scheduling a consultation today!
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Effective pain relief; less scarring— a postage stamp-sized incision (less than an inch in length) is often all that it takes to eliminate your pain.
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