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New hip treatment cuts recovery time, pain

March 30, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Many hip surgery patients have to go through popping the bone out of the socket, incisions that leave huge scars and a lot of downtime. But an innovative treatment is cutting pain and recovery time and making the whole process a lot less traumatic.

Meghan Krein used to run 26.2 miles at a time until she was suffering abnormal contact between the bones of her hip. It can tear the labrum - soft tissue that cushions the joint like a gasket.

"In somebody like Meghan, where her socket was a little bit too deep and rotated toward the back, this predisposed her to getting pinching of the labrum, particularly when she tried to flex her hip," said Dr. Matthew Hansen of the Core Institute, who specializes in helping people with this painful problem.

Surgical repair used to mean a large 8-inch incision, even dislocating the hip. The latest arthroscopic technology allows surgeons to trim bone and repair labral tears through a few 1-centimeter incisions.

Depending on the patient, recovery time varies from four to 12 months. Completely bouncing back from traditional hip surgery can take up to 18 months.

"This is a tremendous breakthrough from the patient's perspective because the recovery is so much quicker," Hansen said.

Krein was able to get on a stationary bike just hours after surgery and was walking on crutches the same day.

This procedure isn't just for adults. Doctors perform hip arthroscopy on patients in their teens and younger. It's typically covered by insurance and generally gives patients permanent relief from their pain.

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