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Hip Arthroscopy: Staying Active, Before and After

Early hip treatment options used to be very limited for people with significant pain or deformity, but who were not quite ready for a replacement or resurfacing. “Surgeons had to open the hip joint and then re-shave it, re-contour it, take out tears, take out loose bodies,” describes Philip Schmitt, D.O., Orthopaedic Surgeon at DMC Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital. “When you open a joint like that, you make it more susceptible to other injuries, and cutting off the blood supply for a period of time, which can lead to problems. You don’t want to open up the joint if you don’t have to.”  

In recent years, Dr. Schmitt and his DMC team have had a an ongoing role in the evolution of Hip Arthroscopy. Arthroscopic procedures for the knee and shoulder have been around for many years, and now, it is available for the hip.


Arthroscopy means making small incisions or portal sites in the hip joint, and placing a camera the size of a pencil into the joint. This allows Dr. Schmitt to use tiny surgical tools to treat conditions of the hip that would have previously have gone untreated.


“In general, the patients we see for this are in their late 20’s, 30’s, early 40’s – they’re people that are still very, very active. They work out a lot or do high-impact sports where that condition will bother them or prevent them from performing.” These patients have intermittent pain, in the early stages or in certain positions. The pain can be caused by a torn labrum or meniscus – tissues within the joint.


One such patient is Gary Stoneback. “I was having pain when I did the things I wanted to do, like basketball, soccer, tae kwon do. Knowing that I wanted to keep doing those things was what brought me to Dr. Schmitt.” Gary’s pain would last for days after some activities.


To perform the arthroscopy, Dr. Schmitt uses a traction table to create a gap between the femoral head and the acetabulum – what we usually call the ball and socket of the hip. He uses a needle to create a path for instruments to slide into position. He then inserts a guide wire into the newly-created gap, and adds water to help spread the joint and stop the bleeding. He then uses precision instruments to clean up the torn tissue and draw it out of the body, leaving smooth surfaces that end the patient’s pain and irritation.


Recovery from hip arthroscopy is generally surprisingly quick. Most of the time, patients go home on crutches or a walker and only use those for a day or two until the overall soreness from the surgery fades.


“I feel great,” says Gary Stomeback. “I’m doing therapy and I want to start doing things I like to do, again.” Dr. Schmitt usually starts patients in physical therapy shortly after the procedure, to help with range of motion, strengthening and because they tend to lose their strength when they are not doing sports activities. Most people are returned to some degree of their sports or training within a six to eight week period.


“He was great to work with,” says Gary. “He told me everything I needed to hear, good and bad, and told me what my options were along the way. I’m happy I made the decision. He did a great job for me.”


To find out more about Arthroscopy, click here.

To make an appointment with Dr. Schmitt, click here or call 888-DMC-2500.

To learn more about DMC Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital, click here.



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