There are numerous causes of hip pain in the active adolescent and adult population, including but not limited to:
- A loose body, like a piece of cartilage, inside the hip joint itself.
- Impingement of the femur bone and the hip socket. This is when there is extra bone that forms on either or more often both locations in response to stress which can result in pain as well as decreased range of motion.
- A tear of the labrum (the elastic tissue surrounding the socket of the hip joint) which is very commonly seen in combination of impingement.
- Snapping of tendons over the hip joint capsule itself or occasionally more on the outside of the hip involving the iliotibial (IT) band
- Greater trochanteric bursitis which is inflammation in an area on the outside of the hip that is normally present to decrease friction of the surrounding tissues
- Strains of the muscles surrounding the hip joint, including the hip flexors and groin.
- Pain actually generated in the lower back, which radiates to the hip area.
The vast majority of these conditions can be treated non-surgically using methods like rest, anti-inflammatory medication, occasionally local injections as well as physical therapy.
However, when you are dealing with a loose body floating around in the joint time can be of the essence. The longer it is left unattended, the more damage it may do to the remaining healthy cartilage. In these cases, the loose body should be removed sooner rather than later using a minimally invasive procedure called hip arthroscopy (“What is Arthroscopy?”). When appropriate, hip arthroscopy can also be used to repair tears of the labrum or to correct impingement by removing the excessive bone.
In cases where hip pain cannot be resolved using non-surgical techniques, hip arthroscopy offers a great, minimally invasive alternative to open hip surgery which allows for a smooth and speedy recovery in the majority of cases.
Dr. B. Christian Balldin is an orthopaedic surgeon, specializing in sports medicine, at The San Antonio Orthopaedic Group. His fellowship training at The Steadman Clinic in Vail, CO included training in hip arthroscopy. To learn more about Dr. Balldin, please visit his web page here. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Balldin, please call 210.281.9595.