Loose Bodies in the Hip

The hip is the largest joint in the body, and it can be injured in many different ways. Hip injury is common because of its location, high level of use, and from strenuous activities. Many people land on their hip if they fall or hit it on things as they walk around as well. As a ball and socket joint, it is packed very densely with tissue and bone. The “socket” portion of the femur bone is a large ball that fits very closely into the “socket” portion of the pelvis, called the acetabulum. At times, small fragments of bone can break off of the acetabulum or the femur and become stuck in the hip joint itself. The same thing can occur with torn cartilage or other tissues. These small bits of bone and tissue are known as loose bodies, and they can cause a lot of problems. They can also occur in other parts of the body, like the knee

Symptoms of Loose Bodies in the Hip

Most patients report a feeling of discomfort and irritation as the loose bodies move around within the hip joint. Sometimes there may be a sharp pain if a loose body becomes stuck in a sensitive place or presses against a nerve. Many people experience a grinding sensation or a clicking feeling in the hip while walking or moving. Some people experience a piercing pain in their hip or groin area that does not go away with moving or changing position. When there are multiple loose bodies in the hip, these symptoms are generally increased. 

How are Loose Bodies Diagnosed?

Most doctors will start with an x-ray to try to diagnose the loose bodies. Because they are usually chips of bone, they can often be seen with an x-ray. If the loose bodies are made of tissue, these can be seen with a CT scan or MRI. Some doctors may also inject a contrast dye into the hip joint to be able to see the loose bodies more easily during the tests. 

Treatments for Loose Bodies in the Hip

If loose bodies are left untreated, they can begin to wear away healthy tissues and cause damage to the hip joint. If these bone fragments somehow get into the veins, they can cause blood clots and embolisms to occur. The only effective treatment for loose bodies is surgical removal. This is done through a procedure known as arthroscopy

Hip Arthroscopy to Remove Loose Bodies

This procedure is always done after the patient is placed under anesthesia. The doctor uses a small, tube-like instrument with a camera on the end called an arthroscope. They insert the arthroscope into a small incision that goes down into the hip joint. The surgeon identifies the loose bodies and uses other surgical tools to grasp and remove them. They also repair any jagged or torn parts of the essential tissues. Sometimes, the loose bodies are too large to be immediately removed and may need to be broken into pieces before removal. Once these have all been removed, the doctor will close up the incisions with stitches, and the patient usually has a short recovery time of a few weeks. 

Do Loose Bodies in the Hip Need Professional Treatment? 

Loose bodies are dangerous if left untreated and need to be diagnosed as quickly as possible. The damage caused by loose bodies could be permanent and very painful if not treated. Any patient who experiences these symptoms should contact a doctor as soon as possible to make sure that they get the best care and optimal treatment!