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HealthWatch: Diagnosing Hip Injuries

WCBS-TV—September 14, 2009

From aging baby boomers to young workout warriors, hip injuries are becoming more common.

But figuring out what's causing the injury can be a difficult diagnosis, and it turns out that the pain may be anywhere but your hip.

Jasmine Caccamo was a track athlete in college and jumped hurdles, but when the 27-year-old started experiencing intense pain in her hip and groin last year, she had to jump through hoops to get it fixed.

"At times, I couldn't walk a few blocks without it hurting," Jasmine said.

In one year she had several scans and got numerous opinions.

"[I was] very frustrated that no one could figure out what was wrong with me," she said.

Finally, she went to hip specialist Dr. Struan Coleman at Hospital for Special Surgery's Center for Hip Preservation.

"It's not uncommon for me to see somebody who's had a different diagnosis," Dr. Coleman said.

He spotted what prior doctors had missed - Jasmine had two injuries. Bone spurs were keeping the hip from moving properly within the socket, and the cartilage that stabilizes the hip joint was torn.

The hip is complex, and misdiagnosis is common. A hip injury may cause pain in the back or groin, leading patients and doctors alike to mistakenly believe that's where the problem lies.

To avoid misdiagnosis, it's important to find an experienced specialist and get a second opinion. Hip injuries can be difficult to spot on scans, so a specially trained eye is needed.

"Ninety percent of the problem is making the correct diagnosis," Dr. Coleman said. "Once we do that, then actually the treatment is not as complicated."

In Jasmine's case, that meant arthroscopic surgery to repair the injuries. She's had four months of physical therapy as well, and has a few weeks to go.

"I can do a lot more than I could before the surgery at this point," Jasmine said.

Soon, she'll be back up to full speed, and she'll be pain-free.


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