Cartilage is a band of fibrous connective tissue that lies in between two bones at the joints of the body, like hips, knees, ankles, shoulders, elbows, etc. These flexible tissues act as a cushion for the end of the bones, and prevents them from getting rubbed against each other. Moreover, it gives adequate support to hold the joint structure together. Therefore, a cartilage tear affects the normal functioning of the joint. If there is a minor tear in the cartilage present at the hip joint, then it does not show any symptoms at all. However, serious cases of cartilage tear in the hip triggers pain and swelling in the entire hip and groin area; stiffness is felt in the hip joint that makes its movement difficult due to a locking sensation at the joint.
Causes of a Torn Cartilage in the Hip
Tears develop in the cartilage at the hip joint mostly after a traumatic injury. One can sustain this kind of injury while playing some sports, or during car accidents. Repetitive use of the hip joints for some physical activities can lead to continuous degeneration of the cartilage, which in the long run may cause major damage. For this reason, torn cartilage in the hip is often found in athletes who are involved in sports, like ice hockey, football, ballet, etc. Elderly people are at a higher risk of getting this problem as the cartilage tends to deteriorate with aging. People born with any kind of structural abnormalities of hip joint may develop this condition because of excessive wear and tear of the joint.
Treatment for Torn Hip Cartilage
When you visit your doctor with pain and discomfort in the hip, they will first try to identify the actual cause which is interfering with the cartilage function. While diagnosing this condition; the associated symptoms, the medical history, and the history of physical activities of the patient are taken into account. It is further confirmed with the help of physical examination and diagnostic tests, like CT scan. The treatment is then based upon the severity of the damage.
In the first few weeks, when the symptoms are quite severe, patients are advised to take complete rest. The hip joints bear the entire body weight when you are on your feet. Resting will ease off this pressure from the affected hip joint and the damaged cartilage will get the scope to heal up on its own. It is accompanied by ice therapy where ice cubes are wrapped up in a towel and placed on the injured joint for 15 - 20 minutes. This should be repeated three to four times daily. If the hip pain becomes unbearable for the patients, then nonsteroidal anti-Inflammatory drugs (NSAID) are given to them in order to provide temporary relief from the pain and swelling. Once the pain subsides, doctors recommend physical therapy. It is conducted by physical therapists and involves some hip strengthening exercises that can add stability to the joint and improve its range of motion. They also suggest some changes in the movements of the hip joint during activities, so that no additional pressure is exerted on the hips.
If these conservative methods of treatment fail to show any signs of improvement in the condition of the patient in the first four to six weeks, then the cartilage tear must be severe. In that case, surgical option is availed. The surgical procedure is known as arthroscopic surgery where special camera and surgical instruments are inserted through small incisions made in the hip, and the surgery is performed. In those cases where the cartilage is in a badly damaged condition, it is removed completely. In other cases, the torn cartilage tissues are repaired.
When you are suffering from torn cartilage in the hip, you need to give a lot of time to the tissues for complete healing. This is because, cartilages do not have any blood vessels and hence, they do not receive sufficient blood supply which in turn makes it difficult to heal up the damage fast. Therefore, you should follow the instructions given by your doctor patiently and resume activities only when advised to do so.