I was an active 31-year-old with two young children when my left hip pain began. At first, I thought it was muscular—that my age was catching up to me. As it progressed, I thought maybe I wasn’t using my muscles correctly, that my gait was off, that my pelvic floor muscles were affected by two childbirths, that my abdominal muscles were weak, or my back was causing my pain. I explored ALL of these possibilities and the therapies, adjustments and workouts that promised to correct/improve them. I did MONTHS of physical therapy, dry needling, pelvic floor therapy, Pilates, strength training and chiropractic adjustments. I could not figure out what was going on and why everything I was trying wasn’t working. And some of it was even making the pain worse.
Nothing worked and my pain progressed to a point that it was constant and affecting every part of my life. I was no longer able to do the things I love like hiking and playing with my kids without pain. I read this quote in a book around that time and it resonated with me to my core: “It occurred to me that pain was literally a daily part of my world. I took it for granted. I lived with it like someone learns to live with background noise. And I was done doing it.”
After almost a year of pain, I finally saw an orthopedic doctor. He was sure I had torn my labrum (later confirmed by an arthrogram) and that it would be an easy fix with an arthroscopic procedure. He referred me to an arthroscopic surgeon. I credit that surgeon for really looking at all of my imaging, listening to me and knowing that the labrum tear was just a small part of a larger problem. I knew from my first x-ray results that I had hip dysplasia, but it wasn’t until I saw this surgeon that I understood what that could mean. He consulted with, and then referred me to, an orthopedic trauma surgeon with experience in cases like mine.
I saw my surgeon for the first time in August, just before I turned 32. He fully explained what was going on and he recommended a Periacetabluar Osteotomy (PAO). He also looked at the imaging of my right hip and let me know that unfortunately it’s “in the same boat,” so to speak. He recommended that we address that next with the same procedure.
After a few months of dealing with insurance and scheduling issues due to COVID, I had my left PAO procedure on January 19, 2022. The procedure went well and my lateral center edge angle (LCEA) is now about 35 degrees (it was ~15-20 degrees before surgery).
I am 8 weeks post-op and am still non-weight bearing on my left side. I go back to the surgeon for a 9-week follow up next week, and look forward to easing back into weight bearing once cleared. In the meantime, I have been starting traditional physical therapy as well as therapy in a warm water pool to increase my range of motion and work on strengthening the muscles surrounding and supporting my hip. We are aiming to continue to work through my recovery for the next few months and to do the procedure on my right side toward the end of 2022. For now, I look forward to my first post-op hike and to getting back to doing what I love!
Throughout this journey so far, the resources available through the International Hip Dysplasia Institute, Miles4Hips and social media have been SO helpful! They have connected me with information, resources, products, and services. I have felt less alone reading others’ stories and encouraged by their journeys and recoveries. I have gone to each appointment ready with questions for my surgeon and other doctors. I have learned how to advocate for myself, to push for a proper diagnosis, to find the specialists with the right experience (both for surgery and for rehab), and to not be afraid to ask for help. I am SO thankful for my doctors for really listening to me/digging into the problem and to everyone that has supported me. It truly takes a village.