HEALTH LINE: Relief From Hip Pain Through Arthroscopic Surgery

Nineteen-year-old Emily Wander says a lifetime of pain brought her to the point of limping in eighth-grade, and it continued to get progressively worse.

Although very active in sports as a youth, by the time Wander came to UC Health in 2012, with a referral to see Kenter in hand, she says she was barely able to walk having seen “many, many physicians” and thinking she may have to go out of state to find a specialist. Wander says she had no idea she had late onset hip dysplasia.

“By high school I was sitting out a lot,” she recalls. “I would hear someone say arthritis and think ‘I am way too young for this.’”  

Kenter, an associate professor in the department of orthopedic surgery at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, is one of only a few orthopedic surgeons nationwide who treat the hip arthroscopically for conditions such as soft tissue tears and bone spurs in the hip joint. 

Kenter arthroscopically repaired a labral tear in Wander’s left hip and removed bone spurs that were tearing into the cartilage. 

 “It felt better in a week after the surgery than it had felt my whole life. It was pretty much immediate relief … life changing actually,” says a grateful Wander who will undergo arthroscopy on her right hip in the near future.

In an arthroscopic examination, Kenter makes a small incision in the patient’s skin and then inserts pencil-sized instruments that contain a small lens and lighting system to magnify and illuminate the structures inside the joint. The surgery is done on an outpatient basis—meaning no anticipated overnight stays in the hospital—and the surgery generally takes 2 to 3 hours.

It’s a newer, advanced procedure that’s leading to “enormous quality of life improvements for many patients,” says Kenter. 

Patients often live with hip pain for years, he says, because it’s the same type of joint pain associated with arthritis, bursitis (inflammation of the bursa sac located in the hip) or a groin pull; all of which can lessen in pain with inactivity; therefore people might just stop moving to find relief. In the young athlete, hip pain is more often attributed to overuse, but it can also be the result of late onset hip dysplasia; of which he says he is seeing more and more cases.

“People are very familiar with having their knee or shoulder scoped, but the hip is a much larger joint and it takes a specialized technique to examine and repair these problems,” he says, explaining that late onset hip dysplasia, which can cause soft tissue tears and bone spurs, can affect patients as young as thirteen.

Dysplasia of the hip is the name for a variety of conditions caused when a child’s hip doesn’t develop properly, either in utero or later in life, and can affect one or both hip joints. In mild cases the ligaments and other soft tissues around the hip joint are not tight, and they allow the thighbone (femur) to move around more than normal. In severe cases, the joint is so loose that the ball at the top of the thighbone (femoral head) is displaced from the hip socket.

What Kenter wants people in the Greater Cincinnati community to know is: “You do not need to leave Cincinnati to have your hip scoped … we do that here.”

Media Contact:     Angela Koenig, 513-558-4625