Soft tissue hip reconstruction surgery – your questions answered

Still experiencing pain after hip surgery? Soft tissue hip reconstruction may be needed. Here’s what you need to know about the procedure.

What is soft tissue hip reconstruction surgery?

This is a type of surgery to repair damage to the soft tissues surrounding your hip joint if you’re still experiencing pain after having a total hip replacement. Although Dan does not perform soft tissue hip reconstruction surgery himself, he can assess your condition and advise you on whether this might be what you need.

What’s the cause of my hip pain after joint replacement surgery?

Dr Dan Fick says: “When we perform a total hip replacement, we have to put a prosthetic device into your hip – that means the muscles, tendons, and ligaments surrounding your hip joint have to be stretched or moved out of the way, or cut. We then very carefully reconstruct this soft tissue as part of your hip replacement. But in some people, this repair can come undone. This is because your tendons are attached to big, powerful muscles that can pull harder than the repair can stand. The repaired tendons may pull apart, and so you feel pain.”

Other reasons for pain after hip replacement surgery might be that your hip joint has become unstable, or that you already had wear and tear in your tendons before your hip replacement surgery. So even though your hip is brand new, it might be surrounded by worn-out tendons and ligaments.

Wear and tear of the hip joint can also cause gluteal tendons in and around the buttocks to break down, which can also require reconstruction. If this issue has not been addressed during the original hip replacement surgery, then pain may persist.

How does soft tissue hip reconstruction surgery help my hip pain?

Soft tissue hip reconstruction surgery can help relieve your pain in a number of ways, depending on the cause.

• If the tendons in and around your buttocks (gluteal tendons) have been damaged or torn, they can be reconstructed to relieve the pain.

• If the problem is the tendons at the back of your hip, that pain can be relieved by releasing the sciatic nerve where it may have become trapped in scar tissue as a result of your hip replacement.

How invasive is soft tissue hip reconstruction surgery?

Dan says: “Depending on the type of original hip replacement surgery you had, your hip tendons could be reconstructed or the sciatic nerve released through the original surgical incisions, but sometimes the surgeon may need to make a new incision in the area. Repairing the gluteal tendons or releasing the sciatic nerve can be done without affecting your hip prosthesis. These soft tissue operations don’t involve much blood loss and most people are reported to have a good recovery quite quickly.”

What are the complications?

Like any surgery, infection and risk of blood clots (deep vein thrombosis, or DVT) are important complications to be aware of.

What will recovery be like?

Avoid weight-bearing on your leg for several weeks. After that, you will start weight-bearing gradually. A safe exercise after soft tissue surgery is walking on flat ground.

Is soft tissue hip reconstruction worth having?

Dr Dan Fick says:

“If you’re in pain and it’s affecting your daily life after your hip replacement, then it’s worth considering having this surgery. Although we don’t perform this procedure, we can assess you after your hip replacement surgery and advise you on next steps.”

If you’re having problems after hip replacement surgery, contact Dr Dan Fick and the team today.