Specialized hip surgery helps patients stay active
Some people never know they have the condition until they're older. Others, especially those people who lead very active lives, realize there's a problem early on, some as early as their teens. The problem is something called "hip impingement," and an orthopedic surgeon at Middlesex Hospital who specializes in sports medicine, is now performing a new procedure to get people who have the condition back in action for the long run.
David Hergan, M.D., who joined Middlesex Orthopedic Surgeons about three years ago, has performed more than 100 hip impingement surgeries since first coming to Middlesex Hospital.
"One of the things that attracted me to this area," said Dr. Hergan, was the opportunity to fill a need for a surgeon who could perform this type of surgery. There are only a handful of surgeons in the entire state of Connecticut who are currently doing this type of procedure."
The goal of the procedure, said Dr. Hergan, is to preserve the hip joint, rather than to replace it, through an arthroscopic approach. Hip impingement is usually a developmental problem. The bones of the hip (ball and socket) develop in an abnormal way, so people have less range of motion and more stiffness. The ball and socket collide in an asymmetrical way, which causes the cartilage to become damaged. The combination of an active lifestyle, with the developmental abnormality, can cause problems early on in life, sometimes as early as the teenage years. The noninvasive surgery involves going into the joint and shaving off the excess bone to restore the hip joint to its normal shape and function. The arthroscopic approach is just as effective if not more so, than traditional, open surgery and patients' recovery is quicker, they experience less pain and are able to get back to their normal activities, including sports, much faster. Yankees' third baseman, Alex Rodriguez, Boston Bruins' goalie, Tim Thomas and the sprinter, Tyson Gay, are just a few of the professional athletes who have had the surgery.
In his role as a team orthopedist at Wesleyan University, Dr. Hergan has seen young athletes with this condition and has performed successful hip impingement surgeries on them using the arthroscopic approach.
"My specialty in arthroscopy and sports medicine is really geared toward patients with a more active lifestyle," he admits. But the definition of "active lifestyle" is constantly changing. Years ago that would have been people under 40, but active Baby Boomers have changed the picture dramatically. Dr. Hergan's youngest hip impingement patient was 17 and his oldest so far was 52.
"A lot of my patients are people over 40 who don't want to give up their active lifestyles, and for good reason. It's really fun trying to keep these people active and moving and "in the game" so to speak, and it's rewarding because they have a bit more perspective on things than perhaps those in their teens and 20s," explained Dr. Hergan.
To contact Dr. Hergan:
Middlesex Orthopedic Surgeons
410 Saybrook Road
Middletown, CT 06457
Phone: (860) 685-8940