Hip Arthroscopy Surgery

Hip arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure that’s been proven to reduce hip pain and increase overall hip function.

Whereas other forms of hip surgery involve the reconstruction of the ball and socket due to arthritis or trauma, hip arthroscopy surgery does not involve prosthetics.

An overview of hip arthroscopy surgery

Hip arthroscopy is a common technique for treating pain and inflammation that is caused by a variety of issues. It is typically performed as an outpatient procedure, and involves small incisions and the use of a camera fitted onto a small, slender tube that enables doctors to view the hip joint.

This type of procedure allows surgeons to see into the hip without making large incisions to make repairs, which leads to quicker recovery times.

Arthroscopy is used to diagnose hip problems by giving doctors a clear insight into the hip joint with just a few small, minimally-invasive incisions in your skin.

If a patient doesn’t respond to non-surgical treatments like rest, physical
therapy, or anti-inflammatory medication or injections, then a doctor may recommend an arthroscopy to address the problem directly.

Ultimately, arthroscopy will confirm your doctor’s diagnosis and allow them to build a plan of action for you to get on the path of healing.

Woman sitting on couch with her hands on her hip because of hip pain

How hip arthroscopy surgery works

Hip arthroscopy is conducted as an outpatient procedure, meaning you will return home the same-day. The surgery can take anywhere from 60 minutes to two and a half hours to complete, based on the severity of the hip damage or any special conditions the patient has.

Patients are typically given anesthesia – whether general (sleep-inducing) or regional (injection-based numbing) – and are positioned by the surgeon with their leg in traction, or with the hip pulled away from the socket. This process allows the surgeon to make incisions and easily insert instruments into the hip.

Usually, the doctor makes three incisions: one for the arthroscope (camera that grants them a clear view of the hip), the other two to insert additional instruments that treat any additional hip problems.

When the doctor is done identifying and treating the issues, they safely remove all instruments from the hip, closing the incisions with stitches or skin tape.

How do I know if I need hip arthroscopy surgery?

Doctors typically recommend hip arthroscopy surgery in cases that do not need a full-fledged hip replacement, but still are not responding to more conservative, non-invasive treatments.

Doctors will likely recommend a hip arthroscopy if you are experiencing pain due to one or more of the conditions listed below.

What conditions do hip arthroscopy procedures treat?

While hip arthroscopy surgery is only favored by patients as a less-invasive option, it is also a flexible procedure that can address a variety of problems without a replacement surgery.

Your doctor may consider hip arthroscopy to treat the following conditions:


Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease caused by inflammation or damage to joint cartilage; often seen in older patients who experience pain, swelling, and limited mobility.


Bursitis occurs when there is inflammation and swelling of the bursae, or the fluid-filled sacs that lubricate the joints. Patients who experience hip bursitis may notice pain in the hip and outside thigh, which can be aggravated by simple movements like walking or moving around.

Snapping Hip Syndrome

Also known as “dancer’s hip; patients feel a snapping or popping sensation when the hip is flexed. Caused by repetitive, physically demanding movement such as dance, strength-training, tennis, and other sports.


Synovitis is inflammation in the joint lining, that results in swelling of the hip, as well as sensitivity to the touch. This limits a patient’s ability to move around comfortably.


Dysplasia occurs when the hip joint is abnormally shallow, making it difficult to hold the femoral head in place. May cause more tears because of increased stress on the tissue.

Femoroacetabular Impingement

Hip impingement is a condition often seen in active patients who experience a limited range of motion and groin pain. This occurs when the femoral head rubs against the acetabulum – part of the hip socket. Patients may also notice a clicking or popping feeling when they move.

Labral Tears

A labral tear is when the cartilage surrounding the hip socket tears or becomes inflamed, limiting physical activity and causing pain. Most often occurs alongside a femoroacetabular impingement.

Is hip arthroscopy considered major surgery?

While hip arthroscopy is rarely considered major surgery, it does still involve small incisions to repair tissue or increase range of motion. It is a step above non-surgical treatment, with typically lower levels of pain and lower rates of infection.

Because arthroscopy isn’t invasive, it is often successful in treating patient hip issues, and is often preferred over more extensive procedures.

Recovery after hip arthroscopy surgery

When you and your doctor discuss surgery, be sure to make a recovery plan. The procedure is typically completed in less than two hours, but your doctor may recommend staying in the recovery room for another hour or two before you are discharged and sent home.

You will need someone to drive you home after surgery and to stay with you for at least one night so you can continue to rest.

How long does the pain last?

Ultimately, this depends on the condition your hip was in prior to undergoing the hip arthroscopy procedure. The majority of hip arthroscopy patients can bear weight on their hips and walk somewhat free of pain about six to eight weeks after their procedure.

In the first few days and weeks, you may notice pain in your hip, lower back, buttocks, knees, and ankles. Be sure to keep an eye on your incision to make sure it doesn’t get infected.

Signs of infection include:

  • Increased pain
  • Sensitivity
  • Swelling
  • Discoloration

What activities should I avoid after surgery?

This all depends on your condition and advice from your doctor. While you may experience increased range of motion as the pain in your hip decreases, there are still a number of activities you should avoid, like the following:

  • Prolonged standing or walking
  • Heavy lifting
  • Squatting
  • Sleeping on your side
  • Sitting upright at a 90º angle (i.e. in the car)

How can I stay comfortable post-op?

  • Ice pack: Putting an ice pack on your hip in 20 minutes intervals will reduce inflammation and relieve pain. Wrap a towel around the ice pack to keep your incision dry.
  • Medications: Talk to your doctor about available medications and techniques for best managing pain. They might prescribe pain relievers or recommend over-the-counter medications.

Hip arthroscopy surgery at Alexander Orthopaedics

An outpatient hip arthroscopy procedure can help improve your quality of life and help you avoid a long hospital stay.

Our outpatient orthopedic surgery centers and expert surgeons provide the care you need before, during, and after surgery.

Get on the road to recovery by connecting with Alexander Orthopaedics today.

Schedule an appointment today and a member of our team will contact you within 24 hours to begin your hip recovery.