It took me a long long time to find answers. I lived with some sort of hip pain or limitation all my life. When I was younger I would speak to my family physician about my concerns and problems. He knew I was active and healthy and would just think that I was complaining or being a wimp for the fun of it (I know right?!? Luckily I don’t have that Dr. anymore. Yippee!!)
I had x-rays done in University of my hips. I’ve never seen the x-rays and all I was told about them was from the technician herself. She told me that my left hip had either a chip out of it or a healed fracture. Yet, no one did anything… I was speechless and just figured that obviously it wasn’t anything serious and it would just be an interesting fact about myself no one knew.
I had also worked with physiotherapists that could not figure out why my hips bothered me. They would move my legs around and comment ‘Wow, your flexible’. They would then say comments like “you must have flexible ligaments cause your muscles feel really tight.”
I felt crazy and unheard. I eventually gave up on telling people about my pain and asking for help. I just worked through it and figured that I was doing something wrong or that I needed to suck it up!
However, I always had a gut feeling about my hips. I would often joke with friends that I’d be the first to get hip replacements or at least the youngest (I figured in my 40s or 50s maybe… not at 30!!) I always knew that something wasn’t right but just couldn’t get anyone else to believe me or see it. My mom would often talk about my walk (I called it my swagger)… the hips just moved differently.
My athletic history consists of figure skating, synchronized skating and (mostly later in life) rugby and adventure racing. I have skated competitively and loved it with all my heart but in my mid-20s I didn’t feel physically capable to continue (even in a more recreational level) and my ability quickly diminished. After this point, I didn’t continue with any physical recreation as I was a little depressed and felt like my body was giving up on me.
I later, after a few years, returned to rugby. At this point, I had gained weight, lost most my strength and was in more pain than ever before. While I had played rugby in high school the women’s team convinced me to return to the pitch and I took the winter of 2013-2014 to prepare myself. I lost 30lbs, gained my fitness back and was in the least pain of my life! (not to say I was pain-free) This is when I started adventure racing with a good friend.
I was able to play 2 full seasons of rugby and adventure racing before my hips took me out (aka I learned how bad it was and that I should stop pushing through the pain). Through those two seasons I started seeing an Athlete Therapist that FINALLY helped me with pain management and getting some answers!!! I had a lot of pain, Aleve, ice baths, hip spica wraps and treatment through those 2 years but it got me to the point where I finally got some help.
X-rays were requested and a Chiropractor reviewed them and gave me the news of my severe bi-lateral hip dysplasia that was there from birth (and he couldn’t believe anyone else would miss it). This got my family physician to order an MRI and when that came back, everyone finally understood the pain I had been living with.
This then led to me trying to find an orthopaedic surgeon. Some said I was too young for them, others said they couldn’t see me fast enough but it all worked out as I finally met with
Dr. P. Kuzyk. At the age of 29, I was told that I required bi-lateral hip replacements with bone grafts (to rebuild the joint, there wasn’t enough bone to work with). My surgeon honestly wasn’t sure how I was walking based on my x-rays.
So at 30, I had two hip replacement surgeries, 7 months apart. Ultimately, I couldn’t be happier as I am now pain-free and ready to live life!
If you would like to read more you can follow my blog at www.younghipandbionic.com, as well as on Instagram @younghipandbionic.
My treatment and recovery
Physiotherapy was key to my recovery. Without a dedication to the exercises and treatment I would not be back at the gym.
Physiotherapy is not always easy, actually, it’s incredibly hard, especially at first. My legs weren’t doing what I wanted them to do and it was frustrating, but with time everything got better than normal (my pre-surgery normal). I was 6 weeks 50% weight-bearing (on crutches) due to my bone graphs so I choose to focus on one hip at a time and have my surgeries separated by at least 3 months (ended up being 7 which worked out very well).
Recovery is not a straight line to success, there are ups and downs, twists and turns. Just keep pushing forward and things will improve. I had to retrain my glutes and hip muscles to work properly as they had been compensating for my joints for years and years.
Lastly, every recovery is different. Even the recovery between my two hips were different. So don’t compare to others, use others experiences as lose guidelines and motivation.