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Hip Treatments for Young Adults

Patient Evaluation

Each patient referred to the young adult hip service at Barnes-Jewish Hospital is thoroughly evaluated by a Washington University orthopedic surgeon who specializes in young adult hip disorders. Diagnostic tests may include x-rays of the hip, as well as MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and CT (computed tomography) scans.

Several options — both surgical and nonsurgical — exist to treat young adult hip patients. Treatment recommendations are customized to meet the specific needs and characteristics of each patient.

Nonsurgical Hip Treatment

The young adult hip service brings together orthopedic surgeons, physiatrists, sports medicine specialists and physical therapists. When appropriate, our team offers nonsurgical treatment options such as physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, and therapeutic injections. Nevertheless, surgical treatment may be required to provide symptom relief and return patients to full activity.

Surgical Hip Treatment

The surgical treatment of young adult hip conditions is a rapidly evolving area of orthopedics. Improved understanding of subtle hip deformities and hip disorders has led to the development of surgical procedures that better address these conditions.

For patients with early hip disease, the goal of surgery is to preserve the natural hip joint for several years, giving them the opportunity to be highly active. With more advanced hip disease, the goal of replacement or resurfacing is to relieve pain and enable the patient to return to an active lifestyle as soon as possible.

The ideal time for surgical intervention is early, when the hip joint is still healthy. Surgical procedures for early hip disease include:

  • Arthroscopy — a minimally invasive procedure enabling surgeons to inspect the hip joint and correct problems within the joint without a major open hip surgery. Arthroscopic tools with flexible scopes and specially designed instruments aid in these procedures.
  • Osteotomy — a cutting and repositioning of the hip socket (acetabulum) and/or the hip ball (femoral head) to correct significant deformities of the joint
  • Osteoplasty — reshaping the rim of the hip socket or the ball of the joint to create a more normal articulation

If the joint has significantly deteriorated, surgeons can also perform hip replacement or hip resurfacing procedures. For advanced hip disease, these procedures provide excellent pain relief and improved function.

What to Expect After Hip Surgery

Recovery time for hip surgery depends on the overall health of the individual and the type of surgery performed. After hip arthroscopy, the least invasive procedure, patients are generally on crutches for three to four weeks. Most arthroscopy patients are fully functional in six to 12 weeks.

For other joint preservation surgeries, such as osteotomy or osteoplasty, recovery includes using crutches for four to eight weeks combined with physical therapy. Patients can expect a full recovery from joint preservation surgeries within three to six months.

After hip replacement and hip resurfacing procedures, patients can usually advance activities as tolerated. Recovery is usually complete within six to 12 weeks after surgery.

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