Baseball star Alex Rodriguez, known to New York Yankee fans as A-Rod, is in the news again. This time around it s not because of his exploits on or off the field, but because of his experiences in the operating room. Just last month, the sports pages reported that A-Rod is planning to undergo arthroscopic surgery at the hip to address a torn labrum. This will be his second surgery.
What’s amazing is that despite surgery, he’s expected to be back in full action by mid-summer of next year. How is that even possible for an athlete pushing 40? The answer lies in the non-invasive surgical technique known as arthroscopic surgery.
Readers of this space may know that arthroscopic surgery involves a camera and a couple of small incisions. Knee arthroscopy has been around for decades, but only recently has hip arthroscopy become more widespread. The benefit is that the technique is minimally invasive and allows for faster recovery times than traditional methods.
Hip arthroscopy is the method of choice for repairing labrum tears. The labrum is the soft tissue bumper that encircles the socket of the ball-in-socket hip joint. Labrum tears can cause reduced athletic performance and lead to varying levels of discomfort. If you’ve ever experience a torn labrum, you know something’s wrong but you may not know what, exactly, is the problem.
In fact, A-Rod had the same issue when doctors were initially trying to diagnose what was sapping his performance near the end of the recent season. An MRI of his hip revealed the labrum injury.
There are two ways the labrum can become injured: it can either fray or tear. A frayed labrum occurs from repeated strains and the normal wear of physical activity. Torn labrums are usually the result of some sort of trauma, be it a hyperextension of the hip joint or a bad fall. The sensitive imaging techniques of MRIs allow doctors to diagnose these slight injuries and then recommend a course of treatment.
The first-line treatment for labrum tear is physical therapy, which can help strengthen the surrounding muscles and tissue to allow the body to compensate for small tears. If there’s still pain, however, arthroscopic surgery may be recommended. The good news is that arthroscopic surgery is a same-day procedure, meaning you’re in and out of the hospital on the same day. Recovery can take some time, but using A-Rod as an example, you can get back to high-level activity within about 6 months—and that’s a timeline for a professional athlete. The weekend warrior could get back to normal workouts in about half that.
If you have a nagging hip injury that hasn’t gotten better for some time, then it’s a good idea to come on down and let us check it out. Even if you’re not A-Rod, we can still make sure you’re back to peak condition and rounding the bases for the company baseball team.
That’s something to cheer about.