Treatments to reduce pain, restore hip function and prevent osteoarthritis

Hip preservation uses different surgical techniques to treat hip pain and restore hip function.

It can help you reduce your risk for premature arthritis and hip replacement surgery in your later years. Hip preservation procedures may be beneficial for patients who experience pain due to a torn hip labrum, athletes who put their hips through extreme ranges of motion, and people who are diagnosed with hip dysplasia and have pain related to undercoverage of the hip socket. 

Hip preservation is rapidly evolving, and the latest techniques allow for a broad range of patients, including high-performance athletes, to maintain normal hip function.


What is hip preservation?

Hip preservation includes a group of orthopedic surgical procedures. These treatments aim to help your hip joint move more easily and with less pain. 

The goal of hip preservation is to slow the damage caused by osteoarthritis and delay the need for a total hip joint replacement.

The hip joint allows your leg to move through a wide range of motions. The joint is a cup-shaped socket and a ball at the top of your thigh bone. The socket is lined with cartilage that cushions the bones and allows smooth leg movement, and the labrum sits around the acetabulum to provide a suction seal to the hip. When the labrum is torn, patients can experience pain and mechanical symptoms in the hip, most often felt at the groin. When the cartilage that lines the socket and ball begins to wear down, osteoarthritis occurs and can cause hip pain and limited motion.

UW Health surgeon Andrea Spiker, MD, explains the goal of hip preservation is to help reduce or eliminate pain and possibly even eliminate the need for a future hip replacement.

Who benefits from hip preservation? 

You might benefit from hip preservation if you:

  • Are under age 60

  • Have hip impingement

  • Have hip dysplasia

  • Have hip pain from a labral tear

Many younger patients, especially athletes, develop extra bone on the ball or socket of the hip joint. This creates friction during movement that tears the hip labrum and damages the cartilage in the joint. This causes pain and can lead to osteoarthritis from mechanical wear of the cartilage. 

Hip dysplasia occurs when the socket of the hip joint doesn’t fully cover the ball of the hip. Hip dysplasia is more common in women, and while this can be diagnosed in childhood, it is not uncommon that the first time a patient is diagnosed is in their late teens, twenties or thirties. Hip dysplasia can lead to arthritis due to abnormal forces across the hip joint.

Is hip preservation right for you? 

Your doctor may recommend hip preservation if you are active, healthy and young but struggling with hip pain. Hip preservation surgery is not recommended in the setting of advanced hip osteoarthritis. 

Your doctor evaluates your hip. If extra bone or a tear in the hip joint are present, it’s best to take action with surgical treatment if all other conservative measures have failed. Treatment for hip pain at a younger age can theoretically prevent further damage to the hip joint.

Why choose UW Health?

UW Health Sports Medicine has a unique group of hip preservation specialists all working together to give you the best options for your hip pain.

Treatment process

What you can expect from hip preservation

Your care team decides the right hip preservation procedure for you.

Hip arthroscopy

We repair torn labrum cartilage, remove extra bone or bone chips and can trim unstable cartilage. This improves movement of the hip and reduces pain.

Periacetabular osteotomy

We reposition the hip socket to provide better coverage of the ball of the hip joint. This procedure has been shown to reduce the risk of osteoarthritis developing in the future.

After your procedure, your body needs time to recover. You can expect:

  • Two to three weeks on crutches for hip arthroscopy; six weeks on crutches for periacetabular osteotomy

  • Four to six weeks of taking it easy while your hip tissues heal

  • Physical therapy to recover motion, strength and athletic function

Meet our team

Hip preservation experts at your side

UW Health's hip preservation program is staffed by a team of experts, including orthopedic surgeons, non-operative sports medicine and rehabilitation doctors, physical therapists and athletic trainers.


Hip preservation care locations

We provide specialized hip preservation at UW Health clinics in Madison.

Patient resources

Rehabilitation guidelines

Getting you back to the activities you enjoy

Joint pain, a broken bone or other conditions that affect how your body moves can sideline you from the activities you enjoy. Our orthopedic specialists can treat your orthopedic needs.

Learn more