A deep, dull ache settled into my right hip around mile 18 of Cincinnati’s Flying Pig Marathon, my 24th long-distance race. It didn’t go away for the rest of the week, so I did what any die-hard, seasoned runner would do: I promptly ignored it and ran a 50K trail race the next weekend. When the pain stuck around for another week I decided to go see a physical therapist. She wasn’t sure what was causing my symptoms but warned me not to run again until getting X-rays in case it was a femoral neck stress fracture (if you ever want to make a runner freak out, mention the words “stress fracture”).
So, two days later I was in an orthopedic surgeon’s office getting X-rays and anxiously waiting for him to tell me that I had a stress fracture. I was mentally preparing myself to
1) not cry in front of him, and
2) take 6-8 weeks off from running (it might as well be eternity!!!)
Instead he told me that he couldn’t help me and gave me a piece of paper with the words “Ganz Osteotomy” and the name of a surgeon written on it. I was stunned.
I think the rest of our conversation might have gone like this:
Me: “So there’s definitely no stress fracture?”
Surgeon: “No – there’s no stress fracture?”
Me: “So I can leave here and go for a run?”
Surgeon: “I would not recommend running more than one or two times as week.”
Me: “But there’s no stress fracture, right?”
Me: (whew). “So today can be one of my two days?”
So I left his office and did what I always did to clear my head. I went for a run. But then I started to process everything.
I had certainly heard of hip dysplasia before (and not just in dogs). As a developmental pediatric physical therapist, I regularly screen all infants and children I treat for hip problems. I provide education to parents of infants and children with neurodevelopmental diagnoses on activities to optimize hip development, and I have spent many weekend hours calling around to local stores in an effort to track down car seats that can accommodate young children in Spica casts who were ready to leave the hospital. But even though I work in physical therapy I had never heard of hip dysplasia in an adult. I sought opinions from many surgeons, read every research article I could get my hands on, and met other adult patients with hip dysplasia. I modified my activities, went for running gait analyses, and worked with physical therapists, but the deep dull ache and constant muscle fatigue wouldn’t go away.
I had a right hip arthroscopy to repair my labrum and periacetabular osteotomy (“PAO,” a surgery to move the hip socket into a better alignment) in January 2015.
Based on multiple consults with surgeons, I truly believed that I was “one and done” for surgery, but during my recovery a different, but all-too-familiar, ache and feeling of instability started to settle into my left hip. Over the next 18 months the aching and instability progressed to the point that I couldn’t tolerate sitting for long periods of time, had to start rationing house and yard work, and was having episodes of instability during patient care.
My left hip arthroscopy and PAO were in October, 2016.