The hip joint is a confusing junction of tendons, muscles, and ligaments interlaced to bear loads and stabilize our movement. From an orthopedic perspective it’s one of the most complex regions in the body, and it’s not uncommon for hip pain to actually be a signal for injuries elsewhere. It’s also important to take into consideration factors such as age as well as gender, but more on that in a moment.
To start, we encounter the hip’s interior and the issue of groin pain. Groin pain is often linked to the labrum, a ring of cartilage that surrounds the hip’s socket. Labral tears are usually the result of repetitive overuse and occasionally trauma, so when younger patients complain of a clicking or catching sensation within the hip and corresponding groin pain, we make sure to check the patient’s labrum.
Moving over to the outside of the hip we find a separate set of issues: tendonitis, bursitis, and IT band syndrome. As you’d guess, these three are each in their own way linked to the physiology and forces located at the lateral side of the hip joint.
Generally, lateral hip pain sometimes corresponds to the presence of tendonitis or bursitis. Both issues are related to gradual wear and tear and repetitive overuse injuries of the hip.
However, it is the rear of the hip, near the glutes, that provides for the some curious connections. Pain in this region can range from injuries of the spine or hamstring to the radiating aches of sciatic problems. It is common for patients to complain of rear hip pain only to find out that it’s related to their back or hamstring. There’s just so much going on at that region that it bears the brunt of injuries elsewhere or simply finds itself overcompensating for weakened muscles or worn tissues.
More generally, the hip can also be the source of pain for things non-orthopedic issues such as hernias. As we mentioned earlier, gender can also presuppose certain hip conditions as some gynecological pains radiate to the hip. In most situations, the type of injury as well as one’s physiology factor into whether the hip region is affected by any one of these issues.
There’s no such thing as a crooked joint, but if you’re talking about the least straightforward one, well, you can see why some might point to the hip. And because these are all general observations, experience shows that hip pain requires careful consideration of factors arising apart from the hip itself. If your hip’s been bothering you and you’re not quite sure what’s wrong, go ahead and make an appointment today—we’re here to help your hip!
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.
The media has recently identified the early failure of certain metal-on-metal hip implants as a modern peril in our rush to adopt new technologies. The problem with many of these reports, however, is that the few journalists have provided the proper context required for a reasonable assessment of hip implants over the past 40 years. (more…)
Total Hip Replacement has proven to be a highly successful procedure for the relief of pain and restoration of function in patients with advanced arthritis. Because it has been so effective it is now being done, in increasing numbers, in younger patients. However, we must not forget that it is a mechanical implant and with use and age it tends to wear out and fail. (more…)