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Athletic Hip Injuries

Last week, Dr. Brian Giordano came to STAR to provide an educational program for the professional staff at our outpatient physical therapy facility. Dr. Giordano is an Associate Professor in the URMC Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation. He is a sports medicine physician, and treats a variety of orthopaedic conditions. He has a particular specialty in the management of non-arthritic hip pain with both operative and non-operative procedures. There are many non-arthritic hip conditions, but some of the most common are muscle strains, hip labral tears and femoral-acetablular impingement (FAI).

There have been many advances in the treatment of hip problems, especially for the  more complex conditions. Especially promising are non-operative, or biologic, treatments including stem cell therapy and platelet rich plasma. These therapies can facilitate tissue healing, and in the case of hip labral tears for example, may help to offset the need for operative treatment.

One aspect of the educational program that was also interesting was the discussion of the increased incidence of hip injury among young athletes. This has been associated with the trend toward earlier specialization and intense training in youth sports. Repetitive joint loading is a common mechanism of injury, so when the growing bone is exposed to repetitive movement, it can impact the actual development of the hip joint. This in turn can lead to the asymmetrical growth of the ball and socket of the hip joint and contribute to, for example, FAI.

One take-away message here is the role of prevention in sports injury. This applies to individuals of all ages. This entails making sure that there is adequate integrity and balance of musculoskeletal tissues prior to sports participation. When injury does occur, early intervention is very important. Physical therapists conduct comprehensive assessment of orthopaedic conditions. They can evaluate the relationship between the biomechanical stress on joints and tissue injury, initiate conservative treatment, and prescribe exercise and joint protection strategies to prevent future injury.  Physical therapists also know when to refer patients to the Orthopaedic surgeon when necessary.

So if you experience pain during sports participation, don’t wait. See your physical therapist sooner rather than later.

Marcia Spoto, PT, DC, OCS 

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