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When Hip Pain Requires Arthroscopy

Pain in any of your major articulating joints can be difficult to cope with, but hip pain is often especially cumbersome given the role these joints play in your ability to make your way in the world. To restore pain-free mobility (and your quality of life), a minimally invasive surgical technique called arthroscopy plays a critical role.

At Western Orthopaedics, our team of musculoskeletal experts includes Dr. Brian J. White, a board-certified orthopaedic hip surgeon who specializes in hip arthroscopy

So, if you’re experiencing hip pain, here’s a look at when hip arthroscopy may hold the key to your relief.

Behind hip pain

Your hips are large ball-and-socket joints in which your acetabulum (a part of your pelvic bone) forms the socket and your femoral head (the top of your femur) forms the connection with your leg. 

To provide cushioning and support, your acetabulum is ringed by a fibrocartilage called your labrum, and to promote easy gliding within your hip joint, your ball and socket are covered by cartilage. Rounding out the anatomical features of your hips are ligaments that hold everything in place and provide stability.

The reason why we’re reviewing the anatomy of your hip joints is to give you an idea of the many areas where problems can develop that lead to pain. 

More specifically, here are a few examples of the many causes of hip pain:

Of the conditions on this list, labral tears and arthritis rank among the more common, and luckily, Dr. White can often address these issues arthroscopically.

Why arthroscopy?

Arthroscopy has been in use since the 1980s and has changed the way we approach many musculoskeletal surgeries. Unlike traditional surgical techniques, with arthroscopy Dr. White only needs to make very small incisions, through which he threads a small camera.

This camera provides Dr. White with a high-definition, real-time view of the inner structures of your hip joint without the need for opening the area wide, which can cause considerable collateral tissue damage. 

Dr. White also uses small incisions to thread tiny, specialized instruments through that allow him to make the repairs necessary to preserve your hip joint, relieve your pain, and restore your mobility.

Treating arthritis and labral tears 

With hip arthroscopy, Dr. White can access your hip joint to remove loose or damaged cartilage, which is often caused by arthritis.

When it comes to labral tears, there are two ways to address the issue arthroscopically: repair and reconstruction. During a repair, Dr. White sutures your existing labrum if the connective tissue is otherwise healthy and the damage isn’t too great. With a reconstruction, Dr. White removes your torn and damaged labral tissue and uses a graft to make a new labrum.

Dr. White has conducted his own study on the two different approaches and found that reconstruction offers a better chance of success. In his study, he gathered data on 312 patients over the age of 40 who underwent either a labral repair or reconstruction and used a control group of patients under the age of 40.

The results of this study demonstrated that there was no difference between labral reconstruction in patients in their 30s and those over 40. More surprisingly, the success rates for both groups came in at 92%, while labral repairs had a failure rate of 20.7%. These numbers led us to conclude that labral repairs are 3.3 times more likely to fail than labral reconstruction.

To determine which approach to hip pain will benefit you most, your first step is to contact one of our two offices in Denver and Arvada, Colorado, to set up an appointment with Dr. White. Call 303-927-0151 or use the “request appointment” button.

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