About 7.4 percent of adults in the U.S. suffer from chronic hip pain, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and most of those sufferers are women. While hip pain is commonly thought of as an “older” woman’s problem, data shows that in recent years, younger women in their 30s and 40s are experiencing hip pain in higher numbers, most commonly as a result of athletic activities like running, dancing and strenuous physical fitness workout routines that place excessive strain on the joints. Over time, all that wear and tear can cause the joint surfaces to erode, resulting in pain, loss of mobility and inflammation in the joint – all changes associated with degenerative osteoarthritis.
And that’s not the only cause of hip pain among younger women. Connective tissue injuries like labral tears and synovitis, hip joint deformities like hip dysplasia and femoroacetabular impingement, and other issues like snapping hip syndrome and loose bodies can also cause painful symptoms and inflammation in and around the joint.
Arthroscopy for Hip Pain
For years, the only way to treat chronic hip pain was with invasive hip surgery including total hip replacement, a “last resort” option that goes along with a prolonged recovery period and considerable discomfort, not to mention the risks that go hand-in-hand with any major surgical procedure. More recently, though, hip arthroscopy has emerged as a very attractive treatment option for young, active women.
What makes it attractive? Hip arthroscopy is a minimally-invasive surgical procedure, and that means it uses very small incisions – less than 1 inches in length. As a result, arthroscopy is associated with far fewer complications, less bleeding and tissue damage, faster recovery, and a lot less discomfort compared to invasive surgical procedures that use large incisions to access the joint. Plus, patients who undergo hip arthroscopy can return to their normal activities a lot more quickly – and for women who like to be active, that can make a big difference in their quality of life.
How does hip arthroscopy “work”?
Arthroscopy relies on special instruments designed to be used through smaller incisions. One instrument – the arthroscope itself – is equipped with a tiny camera that captures detailed images of the joint. The images are transmitted to a video monitor, enabling the surgeon to view the joint structures in great detail. The surgeon uses those images to guide the procedure, creating one or two additional small incisions for insertion of the surgical instruments.
In addition to treating issues inside and around the hip joint, arthroscopy can be used to diagnose unknown causes of hip pain and other symptoms and to assess the extent of joint damage when MRI, CT scan and x-ray aren’t able to provide enough detailed information about the joint anatomy.
Another advantage of minimally-invasive hip arthroscopy: It can be performed on an outpatient basis with patients returning home after a brief recovery period on the same day as surgery, so there are no hospital stays to worry about.
Hip Arthroscopy Candidates
Advances in hip arthroscopy techniques and technology have made it the treatment of choice for many younger women with chronic hip pain that doesn’t respond to physical therapy, or for acute pain where therapy is not an appropriate option. Still, it’s not always the ideal choice. Before any procedure is performed, the patient will undergo a thorough physical evaluation to determine if an arthroscopic procedure is the best option. Then a treatment plan will be custom-tailored based on the patient’s individual needs and unique treatment goals for optimal results.
To find out more about hip arthroscopy and hip pain in women, call Dr. Geoffrey Van Thiel at OrthoIllinois (815) 398-9491 and request a consultation and evaluation appointment today.
Dr. Van Thiel treats patients from all over Wisconsin and Illinois including Rockford, Elgin, Huntley, Dekalb, Crystal Lake, Barrington, McHenry, and Beloit.