What is “Hip Arthroscopy” and Will it Help my Hip Pain?

Most of us will experience hip pain, and many of us will require medical care for pain that won’t go away.  Most hip pain occurs for treatable reasons, and your doctor can help determine the cause and possible treatments.

Occasionally, hip replacement is necessary; those procedures have become more common and highly successful.  Most hip pain, however, is the result of factors that do not require a hip replacement.  In those cases, a range of treatments may help, including physical therapy, injections, or medication.  For others, a procedure now available from Commonwealth Orthopaedic Centers can bring relief – Hip Arthroscopy.


            Arthroscopy is a procedure in which a camera (called an “arthroscope”) is inserted into the joint through a small incision, providing vision of the joint to the surgeon while instruments are inserted through other small incisions.  This allows the surgeon to perform repairs to the joint without fully opening the joint up in a traditional open surgery.  The smaller incision and reduced disruption to the body normally allows a much quicker recovery from the surgery.

The Hip

            The hip is a ball-and-socket joint.  The large bone of the upper leg, the femur, has a ball at the top of it that fits into a socket in the pelvis.  The socket is called the acetabulum.  A smooth and slippery film called cartilage lines both the socket and the ball, allowing the hip joint to move smoothly.  The joint is then surrounded by ligaments and tissue that hold the joint together.

When Arthroscopy Can Help

  • Bone spurs – Sometimes painful bone spurs form around the socket or the ball.  This is sometimes called FAI (femoroacetabular impingement).  Through hip arthroscopy, the surgeon can shave off the bone spurs, allowing the hip to move more freely and with reduced pain.
  • Labral tears – The cartilage lining the inside of the socket is sometimes called the labrum, and it sometimes tears.  Labral tears can be repaired during hip arthroscopy using sutures or by removing a small portion of the labrum.
  • Inflamed tissue – Some tissue around the hip joint may become inflamed, causing the joint to become irritated.  The inflamed portion of the tissue can be shaved away during arthroscopy, no longer irritating the joint and reducing your pain.

What Should I Expect from Hip Arthroscopy?

            Many patients can have hip arthroscopy as an outpatient; some will need to stay overnight in the hospital, depending on their procedure and circumstances. 

            You can expect to be on crutches or use a walker for a brief period of time, and physical therapy will likely be prescribed.  Most people return to a full and active lifestyle a couple months after hip arthroscopy.  Your doctor can provide specific recommendations to you and discuss any lifestyle changes that may be needed to protect your repaired hip.

Matthew S. Grunkemeyer, M.D. has been an orthopaedic surgeon with Commonwealth Orthopaedic Centers since 2006 and is the only surgeon in the practice who performs hip arthroscopy.  He specializes in general orthopaedics and also serves as Team Physician for Conner High School.  He regularly participates in medical mission trips to Central America.