Hip arthroscopy is a surgical procedure that allows an orthopedic surgeon to diagnose and treat certain hip disorders by providing a clear view of the inside of the hip. You may benefit from arthroscopic surgery if non-surgical treatments have provided minimal or no improvement to your hip problems. Arthroscopy is much less invasive than traditional hip surgery which means you’ll enjoy a quicker return to normal activities including work and sports.

During hip arthroscopy, the orthopedic surgeon inserts a pencil-sized optical device (arthroscope) into the hip joint. An image from the miniature camera attached to the arthroscope is then projected onto a large video monitor in the operating room. This allows the surgeon to examine the interior of the hip and determine the source of the problem. Salt water is pumped into the joint in a process called lavage, and this allows for a clear picture. During the procedure, the surgeon may also insert surgical instruments, through other small incisions in the hip, in order to remove or repair damaged tissues.

A hip condition that lends itself to arthroscopy is removal of loose bodies. As degenerative arthritis progresses, the hip’s smooth ball-like surface of cartilage may become cracked, and fragments may break off to float unattached in the joint. Those fragments, called loose bodies, can cause “catching” in the joint, or they can scratch and damage the smooth areas of the joint. Arthroscopy is used to correct this common condition. Other conditions lend themselves to arthroscopy as well, such as torn or loose portions of the labrum, which is a cuff of thick tissue surrounding the hip socket. Taking care of these problems early may help you avoid total hip replacement later on.

When your surgery is completed, a member of HOI’s orthopedic dedicated physical therapy team will work with you to get the joint moving. The exercises given to you by your physical therapist are a crucial part of your recovery process, so it is essential to continue with them as directed. You should feel significantly better within a week or two because the inflamed tissues and destructive fluids have been removed. Most people are able to return to work two to three days after hip arthroscopy. It is usually possible to go back to physical activities or sports after around three weeks.