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Loose Bodies in the Hip Treatment Options

How are loose bodies treated?

The treatment approach for loose bodies in the hip depends on various factors, including the size, location, and number of loose bodies, as well as the patient’s symptoms and overall health. Treatment options may range from conservative measures such as physical therapy and activity modification to surgical intervention in more severe cases.

What non-operative options are available?


Small, asymptomatic loose bodies may be monitored over time if they are not causing significant symptoms.

Pain Management

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or corticosteroid injections may be prescribed to alleviate pain and inflammation associated with loose bodies.

Physical Therapy

Targeted exercises to improve hip joint strength, stability, and range of motion.

  • Strengthening Exercises: Tailored exercises aim to strengthen the muscles surrounding the hip joint, including the abductors, adductors, flexors, and extensors. Strengthening these muscles enhances joint stability and reduces the risk of further irritation caused by loose bodies.
  • Range of Motion Exercises: Gentle stretching and mobilization exercises are incorporated to improve hip joint flexibility and alleviate stiffness. Increasing range of motion promotes smoother movement and reduces discomfort during daily activities affected by loose bodies.
  • Core Stability Training: Core strengthening exercises target the muscles of the abdomen, pelvis, and lower back, crucial for supporting hip stability and proper biomechanics. A strong core helps distribute forces efficiently, reducing strain on the hip joint and minimizing symptoms associated with loose bodies.
  • Functional Movement Training: Functional exercises simulate real-life movements to improve coordination, balance, and proprioception. By enhancing dynamic stability and movement control, functional training reduces the risk of injury and improves overall functional capacity, despite the presence of loose bodies.
  • Education and Self-Management Strategies: Patients receive education on proper body mechanics, activity modification, and self-management strategies to optimize their recovery and prevent recurrence of symptoms. Empowering individuals with knowledge and skills to manage their condition effectively is crucial for long-term success in managing hip loose bodies.

What operative options are available?

Arthroscopic Removal

This minimally invasive procedure involves using small incisions and specialized instruments to visualize and remove loose bodies from the hip joint. It allows for precise extraction of the fragments, leading to improved joint function and symptom relief.

  • Labral Repair: If loose bodies have caused damage to the labrum (a ring of cartilage surrounding the hip socket), a labral repair may be performed. This procedure aims to restore the integrity of the labrum by repairing torn or damaged tissue, enhancing joint stability, and preventing further complications.
  • Capsular Plication: In cases where loose bodies result in excessive joint laxity, capsular plication may be necessary. This procedure involves tightening the hip joint capsule, either through suturing or other techniques, to improve stability and reduce the risk of recurrent loose body formation.
  • Impingement Correction: Loose bodies can lead to impingement within the hip joint, causing pain and limited range of motion. Corrective procedures may involve removing bone spurs or reshaping the hip joint structures to alleviate impingement and prevent further damage.

Open Surgical Procedures

In complex cases or when arthroscopic methods are not suitable, open surgical procedures may be considered. These may include:

  • Periacetabular Osteotomy: This surgical realignment of the pelvis aims to improve hip joint stability and reduce the risk of dislocation, particularly in cases of hip dysplasia where structural abnormalities contribute to loose body formation.
  • Hip Replacement: In severe cases of hip damage or degeneration caused by loose bodies, total hip replacement surgery may be necessary. This involves replacing the damaged hip joint with artificial components to restore function and alleviate pain.

What does rehabilitation look like?

Post-operative rehabilitation aims to restore hip joint function and mobility while promoting healing and preventing recurrence of loose bodies. Physical therapy may include exercises to strengthen the hip muscles, improve range of motion, and gradually reintroduce weight-bearing activities.

In conclusion, managing loose bodies in the hip requires a tailored approach based on the individual’s symptoms, imaging findings, and overall health. By addressing the underlying cause and optimizing joint function, individuals with loose bodies in the hip can experience improved pain relief and restored mobility.

Dr. Shane J. Nho is a board-certified fellowship trained sports medicine orthopaedic surgeon who specializes in the treatment of loose bodies of the hip. If you believe you are affected by loose bodies of the hip, schedule a consultation today with our experienced orthopaedic care team.

At a Glance

Dr. Shane Nho

  • Board-certified, fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon
  • Team Physician for Chicago Bulls, White Sox, Steel
  • Performs more than 700 procedures each year
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