Stay Hip to Your Teen’s Aches & Pains

Stay Hip to Your Teen’s Aches & Pains

Jay Savage, MD

Occasional aches in the hip or groin may not be something to worry about when it comes to your teen.   But chronic hip pain in young athletes that doesn’t improve could be a sign of hip injury, which has become a growing concern particularly in high-impact sports such as soccer, basketball, and football. These injuries can range from minor strains and sprains to more serious conditions such as femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) and hip dysplasia.

What are FAI and Hip Dysplasia?

FAI is a condition in which the bones of the hip joint rub against each other, leading to pain and cartilage damage. This condition can develop in adolescence as the hip joint undergoes growth and maturation. Hip dysplasia, on the other hand, is a condition in which the hip joint is improperly formed, leading to instability and an increased risk of dislocation.

Both FAI and hip dysplasia can cause significant pain and disability in adolescents, particularly those who are active in sports. Dancers, hurdlers, and baseball catchers are among those at risk, with activities that involve the hip moving beyond its normal constraints.

What Are the Risk Signs for Hip Pain?

It’s important for parents, coaches, and dance instructors to know the risk signs in their young athletes and performers:

  • Chronic hip or groin pain that interferes with sports or performance
  • Any history of hip issues in the family
  • The difference between growing pains and chronic hip pain. Growing pains typically occur in children under the age of 10, felt in the legs, knees, or hips at night after an active day.  The child is usually up and about the next day, while chronic hip pain prevents typical activity at a normal intensity.

Hip Arthroscopy for Hip Joint Pain

In some cases, surgery may be necessary to prevent further damage to the hip joint. One surgical technique that has gained popularity in recent years for the treatment of FAI is hip arthroscopy. This minimally invasive procedure involves the insertion of a small camera into the hip joint, allowing the surgeon to visualize and treat the damaged tissues. During the procedure, the surgeon may remove bone spurs or repair damaged cartilage to alleviate pain and improve joint function.

Hip arthroscopy has several advantages over traditional open surgery, including a faster recovery time, less pain and scarring, and a reduced risk of complications. However, it is important to note that not all adolescents with hip injuries are candidates for hip arthroscopy, and a thorough evaluation by a qualified orthopedic surgeon is necessary to determine the best course of treatment.

Stretch and Strengthen – A Helpful Hip Solution

In addition to surgery, physical therapy and other non-surgical treatments may also be effective for managing hip pain in young athletes. Strengthening exercises, stretching, and activity modification can help alleviate pain and improve joint function. Pain medications and anti-inflammatory drugs may also be prescribed to help manage symptoms.

Overall, hip injuries in adolescents can be a challenging problem to manage, particularly in young athletes.  However, with early diagnosis and appropriate treatment, many adolescents with hip injuries can recover and return to their normal activities.

April, 2023