Hip arthroscopy has become a common treatment for femoroacetabular impingement syndrome among athletes during the past decade. With a career length of approximately 3.3 years, NFL players are required to maintain a perfect level of physical performance during a relatively small time period and being sidelined due to injury could mean stunting an already short career.
Sochacki and colleagues created a study to determine whether NFL players undergoing hip arthroscopy returned to play and whether their postoperative career length and performance was similar to their counterparts without a history of femoroacetabular impingement syndrome (FAIS). After matching 55 players undergoing hip arthroscopy by position, age, years of experience and performance, the authors concluded that there was no statistical difference between career length (3.5±2.1 vs. 3.7±2.2 years) or mean number of games played per season (12.1±4 vs. 12.5±3.1 games) when comparing FAIS and non-FAIS NFL athletes, respectively. The study adds to a previous study looking at outcomes in FAIS players among NFL players by including athletes from multiple professional teams and, in theory, being treated at multiple institutions.
The limitations of the study are a relatively homogenous group that is composed of highly motivated, professional athletes who may not be generalizable to semi-pro or recreational athletes. Furthermore, the study is inherently limited by not having direct access to hip-specific functional outcome or pain scores and, as such, is not able to compare hip function between the groups. Nonetheless, the research team adds a critical piece to the literature by demonstrating that NFL athletes can anticipate quick return to play, as well as similar performance and career lengths, when compared to their teammates after undergoing hip arthroscopy for FAIS.
Shane J. Nho, MD
Edward C. Beck, MD
Section of young adult hip surgery
division of sports medicine
department of orthopedic surgery
Rush University Medical Center
Disclosures: Nho and Beck report no relevant financial disclosures.