Hip problems may not derail activity after arthroscopic surgery

The Los Angeles Times—July 15, 2010

Hip problems can sideline even the best athletes, but a new study finds that arthroscopic surgery may work well to restore function, allowing players to return to competition.

The study looked at arthroscopic surgical outcomes on 47 high school varsity, college and professional athletes involved with sports that included ice hockey, soccer, swimming, baseball and football. Researchers followed up with the athletes about year after surgery.

All had femoroacetabular impingement, a condition that occurs when the femoral head of the thigh bone rubs abnormally against the acetabulum, or cup-like socket of the hip joint. This results in damage to the rim of the socket as well as the cartilage that covers the bones.

Some people may be genetically inclined toward developing FAI, but sporty types might experience symptoms early in life. Those symptoms include pain, limited range of motion and not being able to compete at top levels.

Among the study participants, 78% were able to return to their sport after an average of 9.4 months after surgery, and about 92% played at the same level at which they previously competed. Average scores on a subjective rating of performance level or activity went from 68.6 before surgery to 88.5 after surgery (based on a 100-point scale).

"This study demonstrates that there is high rate of return to preinjury level of function with arthroscopic intervention," Dr. Bryan Kelly, sports medicine orthopedic surgeon and codirector of the Center for Hip Preservation at Hospital for Special Surgery New York, said in a news release. "Before this study we knew that hip impingement occurred in athletes, but we were not certain as to the degree of our ability to treat this arthroscopically with a successful return to full function."

Kelly presented the study at the annual meeting of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine held this week in Providence, R.I.

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