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FAQs

Hip Arthroscopy for labral tears and loose bodies

How long will it take to recover after hip arthroscopy for a labral tear?

Surgery is performed as day case. Patients are advised to use crutches for a week to allow the post-operative pain to subside and perform basic hip exercises taught by the physiotherapist prior to discharge from hospital. It is normal to have bruising and swelling round the three small incisions, particularly the one at the front.

Patients are advised to take two weeks off work, but clearly this varies between individuals, particularly as working from home in some capacity is possible for many. Patients should not do any work at all during the week of surgery and the week after so there are no distractions to recovery. Some work from home is reasonable in the second week, with a potential return to the office for the odd half-day. The hip feels comfortable for day to day activities after four to six weeks and a full recovery is really determined by patients' sporting aspirations; clearly it takes less time to recover sufficiently to play golf compared with competing in a triathlon. As a general guide running and team sports are possible after three months.

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What tablets will I need after surgery?

Patients are expected to have a supply of paracetamol and ibuprofen (Nurofen, the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) at home. In addition they are sent home with a few days supply of stronger painkillers such as codeine or tramadol.

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When can I drive after my hip arthroscopy?

If patients are confident walking without crutches and able to enter a car unaided then a return to driving is reasonable after a week.

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How much physiotherapy will I need after surgery?

Weekly physiotherapy sessions are started after a couple of weeks to regain hip movement and core and hip strength. Use of a static bike and pool are encouraged from two weeks postoperatively. Muscles take many weeks to recover not only from the surgery but also, more importantly, the long-term effect of the hip injury itself prior to surgery.

After a couple of months, physiotherapy can become more spaced out as the emphasis of rehabilitation moves from the physiotherapy practice to the patient's own gym. As the surgical discomfort subsides patients become more confident achieving goals set by their physiotherapist, with a step-wise move up from static bike, to elliptical trainer and finally treadmill. Squats and deep lunges are not advised for at least 3 months after surgery because these activities cause unnecessary irritation to the area of bone removal. 

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Are there any stitches to remove?

No. Stitches are dissolvable and the dressings can be removed after a week.  

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What can go wrong with arthroscopic impingement surgery?

Complications after keyhole hip surgery are unusual. Patients may experience a sore foot from the traction boot and swelling and bruising round the small incisions are normal. Temporary stretching injuries to the major nerves in the leg are very rare following hip arthroscopy and all cases reported have made a complete recovery within 48 hours. Infections are also very rare.

The most important complication is that the surgery may not succeed in its goals of relieving pain and improving activity levels. In published studies, 75 - 85% of patients are pleased with their surgery for a labral tear and would undergo the procedure again on the other hip if necessary.