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The Healthy Hip Program at Rush

Athletes and the elderly aren't the only groups susceptible to hip pain. People of all ages can develop aches in that area.

Fortunately, there are plenty of treatment options. What sets the healthy hip program at Rush University Medical Center apart is a comprehensive approach to care that can help patients avoid hip replacement and some of the other more invasive surgeries. It's also the first orthopedic program in the Chicago area that specializes in the comprehensive care of acute, chronic and degenerative hip conditions in younger patients.

The healthy hip program is recommended for patients with pain in the hip, buttock or groin that occurs after exercising or sitting down for a long period of time. Discomfort that results from overuse, tendonitis or irritation of the hip joint can usually be treated with anti-inflammatory medication or physical therapy, but more complicated issues such as bone deformities may require reconstructive surgery or arthroplasty.

Hip replacement can restrict activity and require a lifetime of maintenance, making it largely unsuitable for children and young adults. The program at Rush can help delay hip replacement — or help patients avoid it all altogether.

Help for the Hip

Along with the other physicians at the healthy hip program, Walter Virkus, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Rush, seeks to avoid hip replacement. The program consists of physicians with a wide range of specialties, including sports medicine, arthroscopy, pelvic reconstruction and pediatric care.

"We have all phases covered, so I think that makes us unique," Virkus says. With its diverse skill set, the healthy hip program diagnoses and cares for lingering hip problems that haven't responded to traditional treatment.

The program's alternative procedures can help patients quickly return to an active life:

  • Femoral head or acetabular osteoplasty – an operation that corrects hip-joint deformities.
  • Hip arthroscopy – a less invasive procedure, done on an outpatient basis, that can repair torn cartilage and remove bone spurs.
  • Pelvic osteotomy – a major surgical effort that involves reorienting the socket of the hip joint to correct problems caused by abnormal development of the hip socket.
  • Physical therapy – for relatively minor problems, a regiment of strength and flexibility exercises can alleviate pain.

Innocent Irritants
Hip pain may just be due to overuse — particularly for athletes — and the treatment in those cases is much simpler. The healthy hip program uses X-rays and other tests to rule out more severe problems.

But high-impact activities aren’t the only culprits. "Everyday activity is definitely enough to cause problems if even mild hip deformity is present," Virkus says. "In some of these deformities, the damage occurs mostly when the hip is bent, so this damage can occur for people who are just sitting or driving."

Often, physical therapy is enough solve the problem. "If this is an overuse injury, a tendinitis problem or an irritation of the joint," Virkus says, "the treatment can be much simpler."


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Please note: All physicians featured in Discover Rush Online are on the medical faculty of Rush University Medical Center. Some of the physicians featured are in private practice and, as independent practitioners, are not agents or employees of Rush University Medical Center.

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