Patients can experience hip pain for various reasons. Causes like sports injuries, arthritis, musculoskeletal injuries, and other diseases affected by factors like age, weight, and lifestyle can lead to hip pain.
In most cases, patients experiencing hip pain can recover with non-invasive solutions. However, for patients with hip pain who have exhausted all non-surgical options, surgical procedures such as hip arthroscopy may be necessary to manage hip pain.
If you are a potential candidate for a hip arthroscopy procedure, this article is a guide to what to expect during and after treatment.
What Is Hip Arthroscopy?
A hip arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure that can help surgeons diagnose and treat your hip pain more effectively. Instead of making large incisions that can take a toll on your body, your surgeon makes a small incision before using an arthroscope to examine your hip joints.
Through hip arthroscopy, your surgeon can identify if your hip pain is caused by damage or disease. From there, they can diagnose your condition and provide the necessary treatment. In some cases, hip arthroscopies will involve steps to repair the joint using arthroscopic needles and other specialized tools.
Who Needs Hip Arthroscopy?
Hip arthroscopy is recommended for patients who have unsuccessfully used non-surgical treatment options to manage their hip pain. Most patients recover through a combination of the RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) method, pain medication, and physical therapy.
If none of these methods have effectively managed the pain or helped with your mobility, your physician may recommend a hip arthroscopy.
Hip Arthroscopy vs. Total Hip Replacement
Undergoing a hip arthroscopy is different from a hip arthroplasty, more commonly known as a total hip replacement.
|Hip Arthroscopy||Total Hip Replacement|
|What Is It?||A surgical procedure where a surgeon makes small incisions and uses specialized tools to diagnose and treat the cause of hip pain.||A surgical procedure where the entire hip will be replaced with a prosthetic joint.|
|Who Can Get It?||Those who have exhausted non-invasive treatment options but still experience hip pain.||Healthcare providers only recommend hip replacements after all other conservative treatments have been unsuccessful, and hip pain affects one’s mobility and quality of life. Most patients who receive hip replacements are adults over the age of 50.|
|What Does It Treat?||Hip arthroscopy treats various musculoskeletal conditions, including hip abnormal bony growths, labral and soft tissue tears, and damaged cartilage.||Suitable candidates often include those with severe arthritis, severe damage to their joints, tumors, and major hip trauma.|
If your non-invasive treatments are ineffective, your physician may recommend a hip arthroscopy procedure first. This may be enough to diagnose, treat, and manage your hip pain. If unsuccessful, your physician may provide other minimally invasive solutions before recommending partial or total hip replacement.
What Happens During Hip Arthroscopy?
The procedure can vary depending on your unique needs. However, these are the general steps taken during a hip arthroscopy. The entire outpatient procedure can take one to two hours.
- Anesthesia: Most hip arthroscopy procedures use regional anesthesia that numbs only the surgical area. Your body is then prepared for the procedure.
- Incisions and Insertion: Your surgeon will make incisions up to half an inch long. They will then guide the arthroscope to the affected joint using a cannula.
- Diagnosis: Your surgeon may use fluids to help them observe your joints more clearly. From there, they will assess the damage and current condition of your joint.
- Surgical Repairs: If necessary, your surgeon will use other arthroscopic tools to treat the issues causing hip pain.
- Discharge:The incisions are sutured closed and, if there are no complications, you are discharged.
What Happens After the Procedure?
Hip arthroscopy is an outpatient procedure, so you will likely be discharged within the same day. You may need to use a hip brace and crutches to assist with mobility for several weeks after the procedure, as it’s recommended that you avoid putting weight on your hip for at least one week. Your surgeon will advise you on how to keep the incisions clean to prevent infections until they heal.
Most people recover from their procedure after six weeks, though it’s advisable to avoid strenuous activities until 12 weeks after your surgery. Your surgeon will recommend regular checkups to ensure no complications with your recovery.
Advantages of Hip Arthroscopy
One of the biggest advantages of hip arthroscopy is its relatively minimal risks compared to other surgical procedures. For this reason, your physician may recommend hip arthroscopy before other, more invasive treatments. These advantages include:
- Smaller Incisions: As a minimally invasive process, most incisions during arthroscopic procedures measure less than half an inch. This can mean faster healing and less scarring during the recovery process.
- Lower Risks for Complications: There is always a moderate risk of complications surrounding invasive surgeries. A less invasive process can minimize the damage and trauma that can lead to blood loss and infection.
- Outpatient Treatment: A hip arthroscopy uses regional anesthesia, which means only the treated area will be affected. This will wear off a few hours, so you may be discharged and can return home on the same day.
- Faster Recovery: Because of the reduced trauma and damage to your tissues and muscles, your body is more likely to recover. For comparison, most hip arthroscopy patients recover within six weeks, while total hip replacement patients need 12 weeks.
- Avoid Invasive Alternatives: Hip arthroscopy can address issues and prevent your hip condition from worsening. This can reduce the risk of musculoskeletal degeneration requiring total or partial hip replacements later on.
Risks of Hip Arthroscopy
As with any medical procedure, there are some risks to hip arthroscopy. These include:
- Allergic Reactions: Some patients may have adverse reactions to anesthesia.
- Blood Clots: Patients who have undergone surgical procedures are at risk of developing deep vein thrombosis.
- Nerve Damage: During surgery, a surgeon can accidentally cut a nerve, which can cause numbness in the affected area.
- Infections: Improper surgical practices and improper handling of the sutured incision area after the operation could result in bacterial infection.
- Unsuccessful Treatment: In some cases, a hip arthroscopy may not be enough to treat more severe hip conditions. Thus, additional treatments like hip replacement may be considered.
However, these are preventable risks, especially in the hands of capable medical professionals.
Hip Arthroscopy Procedures at American Hip Institute
Untreated hip pain can reduce your mobility and affect your quality of life. At the American Hip Institute, we are the nationwide leader in advanced hip treatments and are equipped to assist you with your hip condition and provide adequate treatment options.
We have helped national and international patients seek comprehensive treatments and ensure they receive the best possible outcome. Whether you need a hip arthroscopy or alternative treatments, our experienced team can guide you through options appropriate for you.