AUSTIN -- A recent study shows that what can be passed off as pulled hip muscles in teenagers may actually be something called hip impingement, and without surgery could lead to arthritis later in life.

Alex Kotlarz is an outside linebacker for Southwestern University in Georgetown. As late as a year ago he knew something wasn't right.

"It all started with even getting in my stance," Kotlarz said. "I could never get in a proper stance before because my hips wouldn't let me." Kotlarz said he would feel a sharp pinching in both hips. Like most teens, he thought a little ice and rest could fix it.

When it didn't, his team trainer suggested that he see Dr. John McDonald, an orthopedic surgeon at Texas Orthopedics. He explainedthat Alex was suffering from hip impingement, a common yet frequently missed ailment in teens.

"What happens in their peak growth years is that growth plate in the ball part of the ball and socket joint sees stress due to twisting injuries," McDonald said.

McDonald said that results in excess bone, in an almost convex formation, along the femur near the socket.

"That decreases the space between these two bones, so when he comes up into certain positions those bones pinch," McDonald said. Arthroscopic surgery removes the excess bone.

"We've created this concavity here that matches his other side," the doctor explained. "Now when he comes up into certain positions that bone does not hit that bone anymore."

Kotlarz admits he didn't know what hip impingement was, but he knows how good he feels now.

"I would learn what it was like to have normal mobility in my hips which I never really had before because of the hip impingement," he said. "It wasn't long after the surgery that I could move my hip in place; I never had before in my whole life."

McDonald said while research results are still in the early stages, correcting hip impingement properly as a teen should help to reduce the risk of arthritis.

Go here for more information on hip impingement and other hip-related injuries.