So my PT was right when he told me he thought I had a labral tear in my right hip but it took me over a year to actually see a doctor for it, which I regret. It was only after I joined CrossFit that I decided to get it looked at. Within the first week of my CrossFit adventure, my hips started to deteriorate faster than they ever had. I wasn’t able to squat without pain in my right hip flexor and it was starting to feel like someone was taking a baseball bat to my shin and smashing it to bits, so I decided to visit my doctor. He did the classic hip impingement test which I had already tested positive for, and ordered X-rays which showed that I had Femoroacetabular Impingement (FAI) and disc degeneration between L5-S1. FAI is a long way of saying I had a bony deformity on my acetabulum that was “banging” into my hip bone and scraping at the labrum, which is fibrous cartilage that is supposed to protect the hip joint.
He tells me to take anti-inflammatories and lay off the exercise for a month and come back to see him if it didn’t get better. Yeah, right. I took 3 days off and was antsy to get back to CrossFit, especially as I was realizing there was NO WAY I was taking a month off. So I worked within my pain level which meant no squatting and only dead lifting and power snatching…
This worked for a little while until one fateful day I deadlifted quite heavy and was out of commission for 5 days. I finally made an appointment with sports medicine at MGH.
“I’m sorry but there is nothing I can do for you as this is purely an orthopedic issue. Here are the names of a hip specialist and a spine physiatrist that you need to see. Chances are you have a labral tear and the degeneration in your back is pretty extreme so it’s no wonder you are in pain.” This was not exactly what I wanted to hear.
Two weeks later I finally see the hip specialist at Children’s Hospital who orders an arthrogram MRI. An arthrogram is a procedure in which you lie under an x-ray machine, get stuck with a needle that goes into your hip joint to inject anesthesia to supposedly numb you up (not so much in my right hip) followed by dye that will illuminate the hip joint to allow a more accurate MRI. I read horror stories about how painful it is so I went in to the procedure sort of freaking out. It was a Tuesday that I had the procedure on my left hip. I changed into these hideously large hospital linens and laid down under the X-ray machine.
The doctor then lubed up my hip with betadine (looks like blood. Ugh) and stuck a needle in the front to inject the anesthesia. He proceeded to inject 4 more vials of anesthesia (I started to feel a little naseous at this point) then move it around to find the perfect location to inject the dye. THAT was when it got real bad. I couldn’t feel it but the thought of a needle taking a stroll in my hip joint almost caused me to up chuck my chicken and kale (a staple in my diet).
Then he injected the dye. To say my hip joint felt like it was going to explode is an understatement. The cool part was that I got to see a live X-ray of my hip as he rotated it. I saw the bone deformity and I wanted to jump through that screen to rip it off. That little extra piece of bone is what was causing all this pain! WTF? It’s so small!
Next I get wheeled to the MRI machine so the dye stays in the joint, the nurse tapes my toes together and puts headphones over my ears. Normally I have to listen to the annoying clicking that an MRI machine makes but this place gave me music to jam out to. I fell asleep of course. 30 minutes later and I’m good to go!
Pre and post MRI
Next step was my right hip which was done 2 days later. The right hip is the more painful hip so I was expecting it to be a little more painful than the right…oh boy was I wrong…
It was TERRIBLE. Not only did the right hip injection that was supposed to be a “prick that will just sting like a bee”, NOT sting like a bee, it felt like someone was stabbing me with a knife!! The left hip injection was nothing compared to that! It’s like the anesthesia did nothing! Not only did it look like a war zone on the X-ray after he injected the dye, it also stimulated the same intense pain down my leg!! Not to mention the blood that spurted out of my hip on two separate occasions!!! I was half traumatized once the procedure was over. He did tell me that I most likely had a labral tear due to how the dye spread through my joint…enough of this probably or most likely crap. Let’s get some answers!!!
Those answers were given this past Tuesday. I have a labral tear in my right hip and need to have surgery but unfortunately have to wait until January 7th. As I sat in his office listening to him tell me about post-op – crutches for 3 weeks and 4-6 months to full recovery – my main concern was how I was going to not only get to work but simply work. I am a personal trainer, I pick things up and put them down with two hands standing on two feet for at least 6 hours every day. I live on the fourth floor of my apartment building with no elevator. I live 1 mile from work and usually walk to work. As these questions flooded my mind, I began to tear up. I almost let myself go enough to fully cry. I got so teary eyed and emotional to the point where when he asked me if I had any questions, I was only able to get a meager peep out of my mouth of “No” as I held back my emotional distress.
I left the hospital feeling defeated. But then the “F THAT” attitude came back. I called in the reinforcements – my parents of course – and worked out a plan. Recovery week will either be in Vermont or at my boyfriend’s house (poor him) and I will take a cab to work while I am on crutches. Expensive, yes. But thankfully I have very supportive parents. 🙂
Hip surgery, HERE I COME!