Help for younger hips

14 February 2019

Hip joint pain in young adults has always been common, but it's only recently that the mechanisms involved have been understood, and most importantly, effective treatment options – with low risks – been developed.

Hip pain that persists beyond three months will frequently be caused by a problem within the joint, which arises because of subtle variations in joint shape (and consequently mechanics), in combination with activity profile. This results in the overwhelming of natural repair mechanisms of the cartilage and soft-tissue structures (essentially fatigue failure). The end result can be severe osteoarthritis, where the cartilage wears away completely, and this is usually best treated with a hip replacement.

In young patients there is a spectrum of damage to the cartilage, which results in pain. Many already have significant damage to the acetabular labrum and articular cartilage, which rarely heals and will usually progress if not treated. It’s now known that 90% of cases of severe osteoarthritis are in fact caused by the same abnormal joint mechanics that femoroacetabular impingement (a hip socket that is too deep, or an abnormal lump of bone on the side of the ball part of the joint), plus acetabular dysplasia (which is where the socket is too shallow), are the two main issues.

Surgeon Tom Pollard explains: "Identifying young patients with hip joint pathology is relatively straightforward - pain in the groin is a classic symptom, although it may be referred from elsewhere, and initially tends to be intermittent and worse with flexion activities (driving, sitting, sports), before becoming constant and independent of activity. Clicking or a feeling of instability usually signifies a labral tear. A simple examination test will confirm."

Mr Pollard sees approximately 250 new ‘young adult hip’ patients per year and performs around 200 hip arthroscopies annually. He has now performed over 1000 hip arthroscopies since becoming a consultant in 2012, making him one of the highest-volume hip arthroscopists in the country.

If you are concerned about your hips and would like to book an appointment, simply call us on 01753 665 404 or email us.

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