PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Hip replacements have helped millions of older Americans stay active in life and now doctors want to intervene even earlier.
For the first time in nearly 4 years, Kelcy Mackell is moving without that pain in her left hip.
"It was in front of my hip and really deep, and a sharp pain," said Kelcy.
When it started, Kelcy thought she'd pulled or strained something playing high school volleyball.
"The hip socket was too shallow for the head of my hip," added Kelcy.
Dr. Woody Sanker of Children's Hospital of Philadelphia says in recent years we've learned a lot about how hips work.
He says some chronic issues are due to overuse.
"Particularly in certain sports like dancing or gymnastics," added Dr. Sanker.
Many are congenital, or develop in childhood, though they don't show up till late teens or early adulthood.
Kelcy's condition is a common one.
Dr. Sanke said, "We think that shallow hip sockets are the cause of 50% of the hip replacements."
For many problems, doctors first try strengthening certain muscle groups or changing a person's gait.
If that doesn't work, surgery to reshape the ball portion of the joint is next.
That gave Kelcy two years without pain, and she was able to play volleyball again.
But last year, when the pain returned, it was time for the second step - rotating her hip socket.
"To deepen the hip, to improve coverage of the ball," said Dr. Sanker.
"It feels great. I'm definitely happy that I did everything," said Kelcy.
Dr. Sankar believes the changes will help Kelcy avoid arthritis and hip replacements later in adulthood.
For now, she's pain-free, and able to focus on becoming a nurse, so she can help others through their medical journeys.
Raising Healthy Kids: Hip replacements