PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - Hip injuries are becoming more common and people are suffering them at younger ages.
The injuries are too serious to ignore, but not enough for a total hip replacement.
Rather than sit out their favorite activities, a lot of local people are taking advantage of a new procedure that doesn't involve major surgery.
Caitlyn Grisnik has been a life-long athlete in gymnastics, pole vaulting, diving and weight lifting. She is only in her early 20s, but knew something was wrong with her hip.
"I had a lot of groin pain, and it would really hurt when I did squats or dead lifts," Grisnik said.
She had physical therapy and it wasn't getting any better.
"I was so active and I had to cut back on so much. I couldn't run anymore, I couldn't lift any more. So, it was very disheartening to me," Grisnik said.
She decided to go with hip arthroscopy, which is an outpatient procedure.
It uses tiny instruments, through small incisions, to correct structural problems inside the hip that are not yet so severe that you would need a hip replacement.
"Luckily, my joint itself was good, other than the actual socket. It was smaller than normal," Grisnik said.
The hip is a ball-in-socket joint, but sometimes the ball, or the top of the thigh bone, isn't completely round. Or, the cartilage in the socket, called the labrum, gets torn.
"Popping, clicking, catching, sharp stabbing pain. That tells us there's a mechanical reason such as bone problems, labral tear, loose body, that we can fix," UPMC Sports Medicine's Dr. Vonda Wright said. "Our goal as hip arthroscopists is to correct the primary problem, like the shape of the bones, and then correct the labral tear."
This is designed for younger, active people of all skill levels, not just elite athletes. The rehab is actually tougher than what you'd have with a hip replacement.
"People with hip replacements are up walking the same day. They can be with a cane or crutches. And within a month, they're usually pretty functional. Hip arthroscopy takes about four months of consistent rehab to return people to daily lives or sport," Dr. Wright said.
It can be covered by insurance if certain criteria are met. Some insurers cut off coverage at age 55. In cities other than Pittsburgh, it's an out-of-pocket expense.
Grisnik had her surgery earlier this month, and isn't weight-bearing yet.
"She actually had a bone spur on the front of her cup, which we removed. I think that's going to give her a lot more motion in her hip. And because she started so strong as an athlete, she's going to fly through therapy," Dr. Wright said.
Grisnik looks forward to being to her usual active self in a few months.
"Running again, lifting again, just being active. Being able to walk normally," she said.
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