The Hip Benefits Of Arthroscopy

The Huffington Post—September 30, 2008

Arthroscopy is no longer limited to the shoulder and knee. Patients, athletes, commentators, and doctors frequently talk about "scopes" or "arthroscopy." It refers to the use of a camera to see inside a joint without having to make a large incision. These days rotator cuffs, meniscal tears, and even ACLs can be repaired entirely arthroscopically. What is more novel, however, is the use of arthroscopy in the hip joint.

Athletes subject their bodies to extreme forces; the hip joint may experience forces up to five times body weight during activities such as running, jumping, and twisting. Through either repetitive overuse injuries or direct trauma, the hip may develop injuries to the muscles, tendons and ligaments surrounding the joint, or the cartilage, capsule, and fibrocartilage structures inside the joint. The majority of injuries to the hip joint are typically muscular strains, or inflammation of the tendons and ligaments around the joint. These types of injuries generally improve with appropriate treatments such as rest, ice, massage, muscle stimulation, ultrasound, and a variety of manual therapy techniques. If hip pain does not resolve after an appropriate period of these types of treatments, the athlete and trainer / doctor should consider injuries to the inside of the joint involving cartilage structures such as articular cartilage and the labrum.

According to Dr. Bryan Kelly, a hip and sports medicine specialist at Hospital for Special Surgery and a team physician for the New York Giants Football Team: "Hip arthroscopy is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure that allows the doctor to look inside the hip joint with a small camera and fix small tears in structures including the joint capsule, the labrum, and the joint surface. Many of the procedures that are now performed during hip arthroscopy allow surgeons to address problems that were previously undiagnosed and untreated."

Hip arthroscopy has been very effective for the treatment of numerous athletic injuries including labral tears, the removal of bones spurs that cause a condition called "impingement," injuries to the cartilage surfaces, hip instability, injuries to the ligamentum teres, snapping hip syndromes (internal and external snapping hip) and the removal of loose bodies. In addition, hip arthroscopy can be used as a diagnostic tool to look inside the hip joint of patients with long-standing, unresolved hip joint pain that cannot be clearly visualized on other imaging tests.

Read an overview of some of these problems at huffingtonpost.com.

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