Back in the saddle thanks to specialty hip care

October 19, 2019
Specialty hip care at GW University Hospital

Tony Abate has a passion for competitive cycling, so when debilitating hip pain threatened to sideline him, he knew he needed to get help. “I didn’t want to throw in the towel at just age 35,” he says.

After doing some research on his own, he met with several orthopedic specialists to discuss the cause of his pain and whether it could be related to a structural problem with his hip. Those consultations confirmed a diagnosis of femoroacetabular impingement (FAI), which occurs when there are irregularities in the hip joint that cause the bones to rub against each other, potentially leading to pain and osteoarthritis.

Tony chose to have his treatment at GW Hospital, where he had a minimally invasive, arthroscopic procedure with Scott C. Faucett, MD, MS, to repair the cartilage in his hip socket and correct the shape of his joint so that it would move more naturally. An integral part of his treatment involved participating in GW Hospital’s Hip Preservation Program, which utilizes a highly individualized, multifaceted approach to help preserve joints for the long term.

GW Hospital’s Hip Preservation Program is the only program of its kind in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Learn more about hip preservation and the many other services provided through the comprehensive Sports Medicine program.

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Teaming up for optimal outcomes

“What makes this program unique is the collaboration among everyone involved, from the surgeon to the radiologist to the therapists,” says Dr. Faucett. This team-based approach brings specialists together throughout the process, from diagnosis through recovery, to support the best possible outcomes and long-term success.

Highly customized physical therapy is a hallmark of the program, helping patients optimize their recovery and learn how to prevent problems later on. For example, what movements are causing the pain, how can patients adjust to minimize the risk of pain, and how can they build strength and endurance?

Before his procedure, Tony worked for two months with his physical therapist, Keesha Vaughn, PT, DPT, OCS, to prepare. His highly detailed recovery regimen after surgery included swimming and utilizing the resources at the hospital’s outpatient facility, as well as getting on his bike at home right away, which was important to him. “Keesha really helped me figure out how to create a safe environment on my bike at home,” he says.

With the experience of his team behind him and a meticulously detailed game plan, he progressed successfully through the steps of his recovery and is now cycling again with his amateur team, District Velocity Racing. “The hip is not holding me back in any way at this point,” he says. “It was an impressive program and protocol … In my experience, it’s been the real deal and completely changed my ability to get back to my active life.”

Keeping your body in play

Being sidelined by an athletic injury or joint condition can be frustrating, whether you compete in sports or just enjoy being active in your everyday life. The Sports Medicine Program at GW Hospital can help you get back in the game with comprehensive services for treating and preventing a broad range of conditions.

Some of the most common sports-related injuries treated include rotator cuff and meniscus injuries, ACL tears, concussion management, tennis elbow, and neck and back injuries. Additionally, the GW Sports Medicine Program offers specialized care for cartilage restoration, hip preservation and instability of the shoulder and knee. The program is led by orthopedic surgeons Rajeev Pandarinath, MD, Director of Sports Medicine, and Teresa Doerre, MD.

“If you’re having persistent pain and it’s not responding to symptomatic management, then being evaluated and finding the correct diagnosis is important,” says Dr. Doerre.

In many cases, problems can be resolved non-operatively, for instance with physical therapy and sometimes by modifying activities for a period of time, says Dr. Pandarinath, who specializes in shoulder and knee surgery, arthroscopic surgery and orthopedic sports medicine. “The focus is largely on finding ways to prolong the function of joints and help patients avoid problems later on,” he says. One way to do this is with hip preservation.

Hip preservation – an innovative approach

For certain patients with hip pain, GW Hospital’s Hip Preservation Program can help relieve immediate symptoms and potentially prevent or postpone a joint replacement later in life. It is the only program of its kind in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area and can be beneficial in treating patients before significant arthritis occurs.

People may be recommended to the program for different reasons, including hip impingement (also known as femoroacetabular impingement or FAI). This condition may develop when structural problems in the hip joint cause bones to rub together and cause friction. If surgery is needed, the focus is on providing minimally invasive care whenever possible, along with highly customized physical therapy.

“We’re not just focusing on range of motion, we’re also focusing on a lot of strengthening and targeting any muscle imbalances around the hip,” says Dr. Doerre. A whole-team approach brings doctors, therapists and other providers together to keep patients engaged every step of the way and also teaches them how to manage their hip for the long term.

Care for every stage of life

Comprehensive care at GW Hospital is not just for athletes but for people of all ages and fitness levels – from kids competing on school sports teams to older adults seeking to stay active. “We really strive to make sure that we’re doing the best we can to help patients through a difficult time so they can get back to doing the things they want to do,” says Dr. Doerre.

Learn more about our Sports Medicine Program >

Individual results may vary. There are risks associated with any surgical procedure. Talk with your doctor about these risks to find out if minimally invasive surgery is right for you.