Increasingly, younger men are experiencing aches and pains which were primarily associated with old age. Physicians at the University of Connecticut (UCONN) Health Center say “young” arthritis is a mounting health concern.
Hip conditions are often attributed to anatomical abnormalities that begin early in life or result from overuse through repetitive motion, as seen in baseball. Femoro-acetabular impingement (FAI), also known as hip impingement, occurs when there is a change in the bony form of the hip joint, resulting in decreased range of motion and pain. Simply put, it is too much friction in the hip joint. It is not uncommon for doctors to misdiagnose hip impingements and dysplasias as growing pains.
But due to recent improved understanding of hip abnormalities, along with advances in diagnostic imaging techniques and minimally invasive surgery, many patients are given new hope for relieving chronic, misdiagnosed hip pain.
“This is a relatively new diagnosis or a new evolution of arthritis that we didn’t know occurred, “ said Dr. Michael Meneghini, an orthopedic surgeon at UCONN Health Center. “And we’re now recognizing arthritis years before it happens in a pre-arthritic state if you will.“
Dr. Meneghini said he’s seeing men in their early twenties come in with symptoms. “The patients will present with pain some times flexing their hip—sometimes going up and down stairs—sometimes squatting down playing with their kids. Those kinds of activities they’ll notice they’ll get pain in their groin or pain in the outside of their hip.“
Unfortunately, a young patient with persistent hip pain who is not properly diagnosed and treated may face early arthritis and eventually require a total hip replacement.
However, new options have been identified by hip specialists to slow or reverse the progression of degenerative hip disease. This results in their patients returning to their normal activities and, in some cases, reducing the need for more extensive surgeries.
“In the past few years, the understanding of hip structural abnormalities has increased, allowing specialists to better identify underlying hip conditions that previously went unrecognized and to more accurately diagnose hip problems,” said Douglas E. Padgett, M.D., chief of the Hip Service and co-director of the newly formed Center for Hip Pain and Preservation at Hospital for Special Surgery. “Health insurance companies also now readily recognize the value of hip preservation procedures and, depending on one’s coverage, reimburse their cost.”