Many of us will experience a bit of stiffness or pain in our hips from time to time. This is usually after we've taken part in more strenuous activity than normal, like gardening or going for a long walk. While this type of problem tends to resolve itself after a day or two, if you're suffering with longer-lasting or more severe hip pain, you should always talk with a doctor to get things checked out.
While modern diagnostic equipment such as CT, MRI and ultrasound scans are able to provide a wealth of useful information to the trained eye, sometimes a particular type of keyhole surgery known as arthroscopy can also be very helpful in diagnosing and then treating problems in the hip.
Hip arthroscopy is a type of keyhole surgery and I am one of the few consultants who provide it at Circle. It provides an excellent way of assessing a number of hip problems without the need for more intrusive "open" surgery.
An arthroscope is a thin metal tube, about the width of a straw. It contains a bright light on one end. During hip arthroscopy, I'll make two or three small incisions on the side of your hip and carefully insert the arthroscope through these into the hip joint.
The arthroscope is connected to a monitor, which helps me to see very clearly exactly what is causing the pain in your hip. Whether your pain is being caused by growth of a small bony spur, the presence of osteoarthritis or damage to a ligament or tendon, the arthroscope provides me with the ability to see the precise location and extent of the problem.
As well as being an excellent diagnostic tool, arthroscopy can also be used to carry out surgical repair. I am able to insert tiny surgical tools into your hip through the arthroscope and carry out the necessary treatment in order to get you out of pain.
Hip arthroscopy has a number of key advantages over traditional “open” hip surgery, including a lower risk of infection and a faster recovery. It is done under general anaesthetic and you are usually able to go home later the same day.
Your hip is a ‘ball and socket’ joint, formed where the upper part of the thigh bone (the femur) sits in the 'socket' of the pelvis (the acetabulum).
The main condition I treat with hip arthroscopy is called femoro-acetabular impingement (FAI). Extra bone grows along the femoral head (the top of your femur) or the acetabulum (the ‘socket’). These bony growths create friction in the hip joint during movement, leading to pain for you. With hip arthroscopy, I can trim off and smooth out these additional bone growths, restoring better function in the hip and removing the source of your pain.
Hip arthroscopy can also be helpful in carrying out labral debridement, labral repairs and pincer debridement. It can be particularly useful when treating younger patients who have what I refer to as ‘positional pain’. This is pain that occurs only when certain movements are made, like kicking a football, climbing into a car or riding a horse. It is a very different type of pain to the the chronic pain caused by arthritis.
Even though hip arthroscopy is a type of keyhole surgery, it will still take some time for you to fully recover. I always tell people not to try to rush their recovery as that can sometimes prevent or slow down optimal recovery. Most people will need to be on crutches during their initial recovery and to take pain relief medication. You will also need to have some physiotherapy to strengthen the muscles in your leg and hip and to regain as much mobility and function as possible.
All in all, you should expect it to be 6 - 9 months before you will be able to return fully to sports, so it is a fairly long recovery.
There can be many reasons people have pain in their hip, from degenerative arthritis through to trauma. There are some conditions that will require "open" surgery, such as the need for a total hip replacement, but other conditions can be treated very effectively through arthroscopy of the hip.
Whatever the hip problem you're struggling with and the extent of the problems you're experiencing, I can help. From your first consultation with me, my focus will be on getting you out of pain, treated effectively and back to good hip health and function.
It's easy to book a consultation with me at Circle. Just contact my private secretary who will be able to schedule you in for a time that's most convenient for you.