In some people, the ball of the hip’s ball-and-socket joint (arrow) is actually slightly egg-shaped causing it to rub unevenly in the socket. While this may not cause problems for many people, for individuals who are especially active, such as football players and other athletes, the result can be a painful and debilitating condition called hip impingement. In fact, the condition is thought to be the commonest cause of groin pain in footballers and is often misdiagnosed as chronic groin strain. The conservative treatment for hip impingement is physical therapy, but new research shows that arthroscopy – a form of keyhole surgery that allows doctors to repair the damage and, if necessary, reshape the ball joint – is considerably more effective, restoring movement and reducing pain faster. For footballers suffering the pain of egg-shaped balls, then, a trip to the hip surgeon may be the quickest route back to the pitch.
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