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Hip resurfacing: Andy Murray's bid to save his career

The Scottish star has undergone surgery as he attempts to stave off retirement from tennis.

Surgery: Andy Murray has undergone hip resurfacing surgery.
Surgery: Andy Murray has undergone hip resurfacing surgery. SNS Group

Andy Murray has undergone hip-resurfacing surgery in a bid to remedy his injury woes.

The Scot went under the knife in London on Monday as he seeks to reduce the pain that led to him announcing his retirement plans.

Wear and tear from a gruelling career at the top of the men's game has caught up with Murray, who broke onto the scene in 2005 before winning three Grand Slams and reaching world number one.

Now the 31-year-old hopes the hip resurfacing will improve his health on and off the court, but what exactly does the procedure involve?

How bad was Murray's hip?

Bad enough for Murray to announce his retirement plans.

On the court, Murray's movement has been notably poorer since suffering the injury and undergoing his first surgery 12 months ago.

But it's the constant pain he suffers off the court which has forced the decision to have potentially career-saving, or ending, surgery.

Murray admitted he was struggling with everyday tasks, with even putting his shoes and socks on a challenge.

https://stv.tv/sport/tennis/1435031-andy-murray-undergoes-make-or-break-hip-surgery/ | default

What is hip resurfacing?

A complete hip replacement sees the top of the thighbone and the socket into which it sits replaced with artificial versions.

Resurfacing, meanwhile, is a less severe version of this which aims to stop bone rubbing against bone - the cause of Murray's pain.

Retirement: Murray has announced his planned retirement from tennis?
Retirement: Murray has announced his planned retirement from tennis? SNS

To lessen the wear on the bone at the top of the thigh, the femur is smoothed down and then covered with a metal cap. 

Further to this, a layer of metal is also placed into the pelvic socket where it sits.

This means that instead of bone continuing to rub against bone and causing further degradation at the hip joint, metal now rubs against metal, thus reducing pain.

An X-ray of Andy Murray's 'metal hip'.
An X-ray of Andy Murray's 'metal hip'. Andy Murray/Instagram

The majority of the patient's original bones around the hip aren't affected by the procedure, only the area where the femur enters the socket as this is where the pain comes from.

Hip resurfacing is still a major surgery, though, as muscles around the hip also have to be cut to make it happen.

Incisions trim six small muscles - the short external rotators - that rotate the femur within the hip joint. 

For an average person this would have no long-lasting ramifications but Murray's balance could be affected upon his return to the tennis courts.

What will happen after surgery?

Murray posted on Facebook to say he was "bruised and battered" following surgery, but expected to soon be pain-free.

Experts believe he will be back on his feet and walking quickly, but may feel soft tissue pain for a short time.

Soon he should be completely pain-free and within six weeks should be able to run, cycle and swim.

He will then have to decide whether to attempt restarting training as a professional athlete.

Have other athletes returned to professional sport?

The short answer is yes. But arguably no-one has undergone hip resurfacing and returned to the level of physical activity required in singles tennis.

Doubles legend Bob Bryan, however, is one obvious example of hope. He played at the Australian Open this month despite undergoing the procedure just four months ago.

https://stv.tv/sport/tennis/1434765-murray-encouraged-to-consider-miraculous-hip-procedure/ | default

He revealed Murray has been in constant contact, requesting regular updates on his condition after training and matches. Bryan publicly recommended his surgeon, the New York-based Dr Edwin Su.

Others to have returned to top-level professional sport include American hockey star Ed Jovanovski and triathlete Cory Foulk, who completed a marathon three months after his surgery.

What do the experts think?

Dr Su believes Murray can return to top-level tennis, describing the operation as "miraculous".

He said: "I believe it could get him back to the top level. It does raise the question of whether or not that level of activity would affect the implant's longevity.

"In our experience it doesn't seem to. Some of my patients have done ultra-marathons with 15,000 miles on the new hip."

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