How to Treat Acetabular Impingement

November 12, 2012

How to Treat Acetabular Impingement

Acetabular impingement refers to a condition where the femur’s head no longer has its full motion range in the pelvis’ socket. This results in some pain and a decreased hip joint motion range, in general. This usually happens because of a socket rim overgrowth or an abnormal change in the socket angle.

Acetabular impingement can happen anytime from 13 to 45 years old and most victims usually notice some form of groin, thigh, butt, lower back or hip pain after walking or sitting for long stretches of time. Those affected usually have trouble walking uphill, as well. The pain that comes with this condition can either be consistent and dull or sharp and catching.

When it comes to treating acetabular impingement, non-surgical treatment always has to be considered before anything else – remember that. Fortunately, this condition can usually be treated with mere lifestyle changes, physical therapy, anti-inflammatory regimens, and plenty of rest. In fact, these treatments – as conservative as they might be – have already successfully reduced the swelling of the joints and the pain that some of the patients with this condition have experienced. If the pain doesn’t go away, though, it might be necessary to properly differentiate the hip pain from the abdominal or lower back pain. One effective way to do this would be to inject analgesics or steroids into the affected hip. An injection will actually accomplish a couple of things. First of all, if the experienced pain actually is stemming from the hip, the injection will provide some much-needed relief. Second of all, the injection will confirm the overall diagnosis.

Another procedure that isn’t as invasive as surgery yet is still effective in treating acetabular impingement would be hip arthroscopy. Also known as hip scope, this procedure involves making small incisions into the affected joint. Saline will then be sent through it to give the surgeon better visualization during the entire procedure. The instruments used during this procedure include a thin and long camera called an arthroscope, which the surgeon can use to look inside the joint; and various shavers, which the surgeon can use to cut frayed cartilage away and shave away bone bumps as needed to eliminate the pain.

Aside from getting rid of the loose bodies and frayed tissue in the joint, the surgeon might have to drill holes into the bare bone patches that have lost their cartilage, too. Naturally, patients will take regional anesthesia before this procedure is done. After the operation, patients will usually have to use crutches for a couple of weeks and have a post-operative checkup after a week to remove the sutures. Patients will also need to start a physical therapy plan to improve their hip’s flexibility and strength. They usually won’t be able to go back to their regular activities until they have completed six weeks of their therapy. Also, it could take up to half a year for them to stop feeling any pain or soreness altogether.

Not everybody with acetabular impingement can go through hip arthroscopy, though. Usually, the patients who are best suited for this procedure are active people who have hip pain, but can still preserve their cartilage. Conversely, people who have suffered a lot of cartilage loss might be better suited for complete hip replacement.

Category: Articles