What is a tendon transfer in the hip?

A tendon transfer is a surgery where your doctor removes a non-functioning tendon. They replace it with a functioning tendon from your body. Tendons are strong, thick tissues that attach your muscles to your bones. They're all over your body where you have joints. This includes your hips

Hip tendons can become damaged or stop working. You may experience pain and difficulty moving your leg and hips. Tendon transfer surgery can help bring back some of that function. Additionally, this surgery helps relieve pain and stiffness from tendonitis or bursitis. That's because it removes the inflamed or damaged tendons.

What to expect from tendon transfer

Doctors do tendon transfer using an arthroscope. This is a small tool that helps your doctor access your joints. The doctor only needs to make small incisions to reach your tendons and joints. You'll likely be able to go home the same day after surgery. If you do stay in the hospital, it's for a short time

The doctor makes two or three small incisions near the damaged tendon. They use a small camera to see inside the joint. First, the doctor removes the old, damaged tendon. They then cut a piece of the working tendon and sew it where the old one was. The other end of the functioning tendon stays attached to your muscle.

Your doctor will prescribe pain medication after your surgery. They'll also give you crutches to keep the weight off of your hip. You may need to wear a brace to limit movement of your hip muscles and tendons as the graft heals. Doing physical therapy in the weeks and months after the operation can help you regain strength and learn to use your hip again.

Common conditions requiring tendon transfer

Conditions that may require tendon transfer include:

  • Gout
  • Arthritis
  • Improper gait
  • Injury to the hip
  • Previous hip surgery
  • Repeated stress on the hip

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