The hip labrum is a layer of tissue that extends from the cartilage that protects the hip joint. When injured it can cause pain and catching of the joint. If you’ve failed conservative treatment such as physical therapy and rest, a common treatment for hip labral tears is arthroscopic surgery to remove the torn labrum. What’s wrong with this approach and how can we actually do better?
Typical arthroscopic surgery for a labral tear results in cutting out the damaged tissue, rarely can the tear be sown together. If you have a catching or mechanical impingement dysfunction in the hip related to your injured labrum, removing the torn flap that is getting caught can help with the pain and catching symptoms short term. Unfortunately a vital defense for your hip has been removed which means long term your hip is exposed to more pressure. If you already have arthritis in the hip joint, removal of the labrum can subtly leave your hip less stable, less protected, and will likely lead to more arthritis over the next few years. If you have only a labral tear without any current cartilage loss, removing a portion of the labrum will put more stress on the hip joint and make it less stable, thus leaving it more susceptible to arthritis earlier than normal. In both cases, understand that removing the labrum does not ultimately fix your problem long term. It may in fact cause more problems and you should consider other long term solutions.
So how can you save your hip joint if you’ve developed a labral tear. For starters, if you are considering surgery, make sure you are aware of the risks and alternatives. If your primary complaint is pain but no mechanical/catching symptoms, forgo surgery and proceed with the Regenexx stem cell or platelet treatments depending on the degree of your problem. If you already have arthritis in the hip, the Regenexx stem cell treatment would be useful in treating the labral injury and your arthritis. If you have significant mechanical symptoms and are proceeding with surgery to remove the labral tissue, strongly consider the Regenexx stem cell treatment after surgery to help protect your hip joint long term. This approach combined with weight loss, hip and core strengthening, and healthy joint supplements will give you the best chance to save your hip.
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