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Labral tear? An arthroscopy might be the treatment you need

Being told that you have a hip labral tear can be life-changing. Depending on your situation, some doctors might tell you that you’ll never be able to do the activities you love again: No more running, no more dancing, no more hiking, no more gardening. The rules are strict and serious. For someone who leads an active lifestyle, this can be particularly disappointing, especially if the injury occurs at a young age. Thankfully, a labral tear no longer means a life without activity.  Across the nation and certainly in such an active and young urban community as New York, patients are learning that arthroscopies are an ideal way to treat tears and may prevent larger procedures down the line.

Labral tears involve the cartilage that surrounds the hip socket. They are quite common within athletic circles and in all age groups. In fact, many people are predisposed to these tears due to hip impingements. Labral tears are also notoriously painful, causing incredible discomfort and loud clicking that leads most patients to the doctor’s office within days of injury.  The diagnosis is often subtle and frequently unrecognized, therefore difficult to diagnose correctly.

Patients who are diagnosed early, however, often find a solution in arthroscopy. This procedure relies on a tiny lighted camera placed inside of the hip to help guide and direct the surgical instruments that are fixing the torn labrum. The goal of arthroscopic and mini-open surgery is to repair or trim the damaged labrum and shave any bony spurs or bumps that have built up and threaten to cause irreversible degenerative arthritis. Using this device also means that the incision point can be smaller than with a traditional open surgery, and this, among other pluses, means scarring is minimal and healing is faster. Thanks to extensive trials and research, including the work at our Joint Preservation Center, this revolutionary technique is now commonplace, and its results are comparing favorably to the traditional procedures that preceded it. In fact, when it comes to labral tears caused by direct trauma in younger patients, arthroscopies are thought to prevent more advanced hip replacement surgeries down the line.  Nearly half of hip replacement surgeries are associated with progressive labral tears and predisposed impingement.

In terms of healing, your post-surgery hip can be painful for a time. However, with a commitment to rehabilitation suggestions and patience, patients who have the procedure are often back to their regular routines and even doing strenuous workouts in a matter of months. For most patients, that amount of recovery time is well worth the reassurance of a healthy hip for years to come.

If you’ve been diagnosed with a hip labral tear, do not assume that you have no options for care.  My office can work with you and help you get back to the things you enjoy, whether through an arthroscopy or an alternative plan customized to your specific needs.

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