Four years ago, elementary school teacher Jennifer Aseere was diagnosed with minimal change disease, an autoimmune kidney disease. Her nephrologist put her on medications and had her undergo two rounds of chemotherapy, which unfortunately resulted in avascular necrosis (AVN)
, or bone death. After the treatment, Aseere began experiencing excruciating hip pain. Unsure of the cause of the hip pain, her nephrologist recommended an MRI.
“The hip pain was preventing me from everything,” she said. “I couldn’t sit down on the ground with my students; I could no longer kayak, hike and camp, which I love. If I drove longer than half an hour, I’d have to pop my hip back into its socket. My entire lifestyle had to change, and I was miserable.”
Aseere’s doctor recommended she see Michael Palmer, MD
, an orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist at The Christ Hospital Medical Center – Liberty Township
. While it wasn’t the closest ofﬁce location to her home in Northern Kentucky, she decided to follow the recommendation, since she was already familiar with the area and had heard good things about the facility.
“I know there are places much closer to home, but I like that area,” she said. “Since being in the car wasn’t comfortable, you’d think I’d go for one of those, but once we went out there and I saw the facility, I knew this was right for me. It was beautiful, everyone was friendly, and it felt very comfortable, which is what a patient wants most.”
While it was a sacriﬁce, Aseere said going the distance couldn’t have been more worth it.
“I wasn’t sure what I was getting into, but Dr. Palmer was more than I could imagine,” she said. “He was absolutely wonderful with our family — the most caring doctor I’ve ever known. A lot of times you go in, especially when seeing specialists, and you feel rushed. He always sat down, took his time and made me feel heard.”
After a comprehensive evaluation and thorough discussion, Palmer recommended hip arthroscopy as a solution.
“Jennifer had a complex problem. She did have a small area of AVN, but a majority of her symptoms were due to other causes. She also had femoroacetabular impingement syndrome (FAIS) and a labral tear, as well as iliotibial band syndrome, bursitis and weakness of her hip muscles,” Palmer said. “Jennifer is young, with well-preserved joint space in her hip and not a good candidate for a hip replacement, especially if we can effectively treat her symptoms with a minimally invasive, joint preserving alternative procedure.”
Hip arthroscopy is an option for patients that may not be hip replacement candidates, but still need a surgical procedure to help alleviate their pain. It is a minimally invasive procedure. Patients are able to return home the same day as surgery. It can be performed under regional or general anesthesia. It allows doctors to view the hip joint without making a large incision through the skin and other soft tissues.
During hip arthroscopy, the surgeon inserts a small camera, called an arthroscope, into the hip joint. The camera displays pictures on a video monitor, and the surgeon uses these images to guide specialized surgical instruments. Because the arthroscope and surgical instruments are thin, the surgeon can use very small incisions, rather than the larger incision needed for open surgery. This results in less pain for patients, less joint stiffness and often shortens the time it takes to recover and return to favorite activities. Hip arthroscopy as an alternative to hip replacement surgery is one of Palmer’s efforts as part of a comprehensive joint preservation program.
“Everyone wants to be able to live pain free,” he said. “And if someone has been dealing with pain for a long time and you have a potential way to help them, most folks are receptive to that. I always try to maximize conservative therapy to make sure surgery is necessary. Many types of pain around the hip improve without surgery. There are other treatments like activity modiﬁ cation, medications, injections, combined with physical therapy, that can have a lasting impact. If these options fail to eliminate the pain and dysfunction, surgery might be recommended.”
Palmer is currently the only surgeon at The Christ Hospital performing arthroscopic hip surgery.
“Most patients walk using crutches for two weeks afterward and undergo physical therapy based on a functional progression until safely able to return to activity or sports,” he said. “Patients go home the same day — the recovery will take some work, but when you weigh the pros and cons, this minimally invasive procedure can be life changing.” A few months after the surgery, Aseere said she’s seeing the pros. “I’m feeling much, much better,” she said. “Sure, there are a few things I need to tweak, and I’ll continue working on them with physical therapy, but I can get back on the ﬂ oor again, living life with my family and students. It has changed my life in ways I didn’t think were possible before the procedure in December.” If you’re experiencing hip pain, click to learn how our experts can help, or call 513-301-0298 to discuss your symptoms and learn more about your treatment options.