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Lenox Mount Sinai NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital weill Cornell
Hip Instability

Falls are a serious risk for any individual, though older consumers may face increased hazards and long-lasting impacts from a simple fall in the home. If you struggle with hip instability — often stemming from a previous injury — you are even more at risk, which warrants medical intervention. Don’t become one of the estimated 2.8 million people who are treated at hospitals each year for a fall by diagnosing and treating hip instability now.

Do you suffer from hip instability? Here’s what you need to know.

Hip Instability

The ligaments that line your hip and seal your hip joint provide hip stability, which in turn, affects your core balance and mobility. When something happens to or injures the components of the hip — such as the tissue, ligaments, and bones — the result could be hip instability. Dislocation or dysplasia can also lead to hip instability, chronic pain, and difficulty with mobility. Trauma from a car accident or a sporting injury frequently causes hip instability in many sufferers.

Causes of Hip Instability

Hip Instability can be caused by many factors. There are two main types of unstable hip conditions are:

  • Traumatic instability: This can result from a motor vehicle accident or very strenuous athletic activities. It’s often caused by damage to the top of the thigh bone or injury to the labrum or cartilage. It can also be caused by the formation of loose bodies.
  • Chronic instability: This can be caused by genetic or developmental problems, as well as by overuse of the hip joint.

Instability in the hip, or capsular laxity, is an encompassing term used to describe general looseness or weakness of the hip joint.

Chronic Instability

As mentioned, any type of injury, damage or condition that impacts an area of the hip can contribute to hip instability. Overuse of your hips, such as due to exercise, and trauma are the most common reasons for your hips to become unstable. If you were born with any limb length issue or if you lack muscle strength and exhibit a lack of coordination, you could be at risk. Those experiencing hip dysplasia may have symptoms that resemble hip instability, and the two can be closely connected.

Traumatic Instability

Traumatic hip instability can come from a car accident or sports injury, while chronic instability may come from something inherent that you have always experienced and lived with. Causes of the condition range from stepping off a curb wrong to being injured in a sporting event played on uneven terrain; meet with and share symptoms with a hip and pelvic specialist for diagnosis and treatment options.

Hip Instability Treatment

For most patients suffering from an unstable hip, a conservative approach is taken, usually starting with physical therapy. However, if a more conservative approach doesn’t produce a more stable hip, a corrective procedure can be performed to improve capsular laxity by tightening the hip capsule and the ligaments surrounding the hip using arthroscopic surgery.

Hip arthroscopy is a common line of defense against hip instability, followed by physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medications. This involves using a laser to noninvasively tighten the ligaments surrounding your hip joint to create more stability. Sutures are used to tighten the hip, which can be done on an outpatient basis with minimal recovery time after.

Hip Instability Improvement

Many treatment practices, such as hip arthroscopy, are outpatient procedures that involve little-to-no discomfort. Aftercare may include a couple weeks wearing a brace and using crutches. Some physicians may recommend therapy on a stationary bike to regain hip range of motion and flexibility. Also, most practitioners will immediately order a course of physical therapy to begin the day after your surgical procedure.

Hip Instability Prevention and Prognosis

If you suffer from hip instability, your prognosis is good with exercise and physical therapy. Some medications may offer relief from pain and reduced inflammation, which are conducive to participating in these physical regimens. A likely course of action is for your doctor to search for the underlying cause of the instability, whether it is an old injury or a genetic issue, and treat that. Some individuals may find relief from using ice on their hip several times a day, for around 15 minutes at a time. When nothing seems to help, speak to an experienced surgeon about your options to manage pain and prevent further hip damage and mobility difficulties.

Stop living with the pain and discomfort of hip instability, and see a surgical hip and groin preservation specialist today. Dr. Bharam is ready to reduce your fall risk with common-sense strategies and treatment practices for your hip issues. Taking care of hip instability now will prevent everyday pain, mobility issues and long-term impacts, such as a limp.

  • American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
  • Arthroscopy Association of North America
  • International Society for Hip Arthroscopy
  • American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
  • Ambra Health
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