YOUR HEALTH: Relief for younger people with hip pain

CHICAGO – Photographer Marie-Christine Genero is always looking for the perfect shot.   But a few years ago, hip pain prevented her from getting it.

"It was a dull, deep pain in the hip," she explained.   "Since I had that pain, I wasn't going down in the positions I used to do."

She also had to give up many of her favorite activities.

"Boxing, circuit training, snowboarding, running, so just a ton of stuff that I love doing."

Marie-Christine had a femoroacetabular impingement, or FAI for short.

It happens when bones in the hip change shape and rub together.   It's commonly seen in young, active people.

"So, the ball and socket kind of change shape in response to repetitive activities and loadings that's going on in the joint," explained Midwest Orthopedics at Rush Hospital orthopedic surgeon Dr. Shane Nho.

Since there is no absolute age or weight restrictions for a total hip replacement, recommendations for the surgery are based on pain and disability.

Most patients who undergo the surgery range from age 50 to 80.

Surgery is recommended for patients with:

  • Hip pain that limits everyday activities like walking
  • Pain that continues while resting day and night
  • Stiffness that limits the ability for a patient to move or lift their leg
  • Failure to suppress pain with anti-inflammatory drugs, physical therapy, or walking support

But now a new treatment could be a remedy.

Dr. Nho performs a procedure called hip arthroscopy to solve the problem.

First, he makes tiny incisions and repairs any damage.    Then, he works on the abnormal bone shape.

"Most importantly, we have to shave down the bone so that the ball and socket articulate more smoothly," said Dr. Nho.

The surgery only takes about an hour and a half, but the recovery can be six months or more.   Dr. Nho says because the procedure is newer, the long-term outcomes aren't known.

HIP ARTHROSCOPY:  Hip arthroscopy may be an alternative to a total hip replacement, especially for young and/or active patients.  It is a surgical procedure that allows doctors to examine the hip joint without making a large incision through the skin and other soft tissue.  A surgeon performing this procedure inserts a small camera into the hip joint.  Then using miniature surgical instruments, a surgeon will identify and evaluate the damage before beginning any specific treatments.  Once the problem is clearly identified, more instruments will be used through separate incisions to repair it.  Procedures can include smoothing off torn cartilage or repairing it, trimming bone spurs caused by FAI, and removing inflamed tissue.  Special instruments are used for tasks such as cutting, shaving, grasping, suture passing and knot tying as well as anchor stitches into the bone.  Complications are very uncommon, recovery can take upwards of 6 months.  (Source: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00572)

If this story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Jim Mertens at jim.mertens@wqad.com or Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com.