My Journey to FAI Hip Surgery for a Labrum Tear from a Real Patient – Jersey Girl Talk


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For many people who suffer from lower back pain or hip pain you may find yourself on an endless journey trying to find answers. What starts as a pinching, pulling, nagging pain in the top part of your back on your hip bone, a constant pull or ache in your groan or side, or a numbness that just never goes away could be a labral tear in your hip. This is my story about my FAI journey – nearly a year of tests, diagnosis and then eventually surgery to repair a pincher bone impingement in my right hip and fixing and reattaching my labrum. If you landed here you likely are also searching for answers, so I hope this can help you get to recovery much faster than it took me.

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For those of you who have been seeking out treatment, looking for answers or are getting ready to have FAI surgery yourself I hope this will be helpful for you to hear someone else’s story. Many times when I searched online all I found was endless medical journals, people trying to sell me an e-book about why not to get FAI surgery or just even more ambiguous answers to my pain. It was so hard to find anyone’s real life experience, so here is mine. I will also have follow up posts with the progress from my surgery, tips of what to buy and how to prepare and my journey back to lifting again.

Back Story: My name is Adrienne, I am 37 now but was 36 when this all began. I am 5’5″ tall and when this all started I was around 115lb and super fit and weight training all the time. I was in the gym five to six times a week doing strength training and it was just part of my DNA. (more about that can be found here). This is the first part of my ongoing documenting of my surgery and road to recovery. Long story short; I am not old or out of shape, I am very well educated in the world of health, nutrition, fitness and supplementation (I was a Senior Director at Vitamin Shoppe for 5 years so I know a thing or two about the body, nutrition, diet and fitness) – and I KNOW my body.

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Many of you know me or found me due to my strength training for women posts which sadly went radio silent for a long time. So many of my readers and followers wondered where my workout guides and videos went and here’s the answer – I was suffering so bad, my form completely suffered, I lost confidence in my ability to train properly and with the energy I used to have that I had to give up training. I lost weight, all the hard earned muscle, all my motivation and became very sad that such a big part who I was and what loved was taken away. Every workout hurt, every squat, every step, sitting, sleeping – it all hurt so I finally have it all up and went on a hunt for answers. I figured it was best to not aggravate things more and just let my body rest until I was cleared to train again. Even when I took a month off and then went back to work out squats felt wrong, my legs were not equally strong and I’d come home in agony for days after. It was time to stop trying to be a “trooper”, to stop “just grin and bear it” and get some damn answers.

This is my FAI story Part 1: Leading up to surgery

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Day of surgery to show my bandages and use of walker and crutches

The Journey to Answers:

Back in June of 2017 I started to have really terrible lower back pain that started in the top back part of my right hip. Obviously for this reason I was not sure if the pain was coming from a back issue or a hip issue. It felt like a constant pull in my lower back that radiated down into my glutes and hip bone. Below is where a lot of the locking felt and I’d sit in my chair and try to crack my back. If I put my hand on my back and around my side it made the shape of a “C” knows as the C sign or C curve which usually means a labrum or hip issue.

Labrum Hip Pain Area Back Lower

At night time, while sleeping, my hip would fall asleep or it would go numb. Some nights I would wake up feeling like I was sleeping on a heating pad, which is what I would call a “burning pain” that ran down my hip bone and felt like pain deep inside the glutes and hip. What was confusing is that it also felt like I had to crack my lower back and just couldn’t. I would lie on the floor twisting and turning, trying to push my body to crack in hopes that it would relieve some sort of pressure – but I could never push it far enough or get any relief. I even tried foam rollingir?source=bk&t=jers0b 20&bm id=default&l=ktl&linkId=33706877dc82f3e10a5d4e757b9961b9& cb=1529068630952, BenGay creamsir?source=bk&t=jers0b 20&bm id=default&l=ktl&linkId=38bdb49c2954b2318bdf3081bec65fe6& cb=1529068642849, anti inflammatory foods and supplements – no relief.

I remember in June going on vacation to the Bahamas and saying “wow this bed really is helping the pain in my back.” For that reason I thought maybe this was all due to my bed (as you can see I was searching for answers everywhere). I came home and replaced my current mattress with a super expensive Tempurpedicir?source=bk&t=jers0b 20&bm id=default&l=ktl&linkId=4c140c36669980de274571c1e67b4f41& cb=1529068721735 because I thought that would be the answers to my constant pain and aching. Granted the mattress was well worth the investment and I love it anyway, but the pins and needles continued. I would wake up feeling so broken and that everything needed to be popped and cracked. I would pop my hips each morning to relieve the pressure and it felt like my hips would be locked up if I didn’t. The sound was so loud and terrifying and I had to do this multiple times a day. (Be warned this clip sound so gross and disturbing but it happened every single day). It’s the loudest hip pop you’ve ever heard. Imagine this 3-4 times a day?! Click below

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g05UmZYlNHI

At that point my lower back started to feel really “off” and even though I was still going to the gym, I never felt confident lifting anything that required strength in my lower back or hips. Slowly I weight trained less and less and stayed active doing lighter lifts, conditioning and cardio. I couldn’t even do the stair master anymore because I hurt with every step up on my right leg.

I went from 115lb or so or much more strength and muscle to around 108 and loss of tone and flexibility in my hips and hip flexors.  I am a lover of going in and doing compound moves and pushing myself. I bought some DynaPro resistance bandsir?source=bk&t=jers0b 20&bm id=default&l=ktl&linkId=d0cc021b2adfdf01c2722aaef7faf2cb& cb=1529069386393 to try to help my hip flexors stretch more which helped a bit, and was worth a shot, but again it only helped so much at the time.

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I then woke up one morning a few weeks later and found myself laying on the hard floor in my bedroom in agony. I felt like I had thrown my lower back out and my hip was burning. Touching my lower back near the top of my hip was like daggers. I decided to call up the closest chiropractor in hopes that maybe I just needed an adjustment and I needed someone ASAP. That was the first step in my journey with doctors – chiropractic care. I went that moment on a mission to feel better or at least I hoped.

Chiropractor Visit & Care

I got in that day with Metropolitan Chiropractic Care and had an introductory appointment. On my first visit we did a set of X-Rays to see what was going on with my spine and that was done right in the office. Within 30 minutes there was my spinal column for me and the doctor to review.

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It was clear that I had some major issues going on with the alignment of my spine, most notably in my lower back. It appeared that some of my discs were a bit compressed, which could be causing some nerve pain that was radiating down my one hip and leg. My L5 & L5 discs had degenerated and lost a lot of the some gel like material between them. Unfortunately the cushion between the discs is genetic and what you get is what you get and that’s it’s. But my spine had many bends likely from how I wear a heavy purse, how I shift when sitting and driving and my hips are not symmetrical. One sits higher than the other too. I saw these images and thought “Wow my spine is all sorts of messed up!”

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My lower discs have lost fluids and gel between them causing some rubbing and nerve issues and I have some fluid and inflammation as well

The goal was to help get my spine more aligned and I was hoping he could relieve this constant pressure in my back and hip. I felt like I just wanted him to push it or twist it and make this ache go away. We started off with a 3X a week approach for 2 weeks, then 2X a week for 3 weeks and then 1X a week for maintenance. I enjoyed going to the chiropractor for the first 2-3 weeks, but it started to seem like he could never “crack” or “pop” my lower back or hips to relieve the pain I was feeling. Sure the visits helped with other pressure points, but it did not seem to be doing the trick for what my pain was, so I stopped going. I was discouraged, still in pain and now a month in of no relief.

At Home Remedies

After I did a month and a half, maybe two months, of chiropractic care I kind of wanted to take a break from the doctors. I took a few weeks to lay off working out completely and try to let my body rest a bit. I wanted to see if I did nothing at all if it would go away. I also wanted to make sure I was not causing inflammation because I didn’t need anyone saying “well it’s just overworked and inflammed”. Maybe I was just aggravating things? So the gym stopped and I took supplements, baths, foam rolling, stretching, simple diet, etc.

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I started to up my intake of anti-inflammatory herbal supplements like Turmeric and also increased my dose of hyaluronic acid, Hydroplenish. I took hot baths each night using Epsom Salt and put on topical creams like Voltarin Gel (prescription only). I also used some Bengay and sore muscle Patches. It didn’t seem like any of these were getting rid of my pain and it was getting worse and worse. It was difficult to sit in a chair all day at work and drive in a car. I was constantly shifting my weight and my hip would burn all day long and pinch. At night I could not sleep at all. I would toss and turn and any pressure on my hip was miserable. I stretched a lot but it never went away.

Orthopedic Visits & Second Opinions

I couldn’t handle the discomfort anymore; it was effecting my love of lifting, my sleep and my life. All day long all I could think about was the pain and discomfort. Finally I decided to see the orthopedic surgeon/doctor that did my husband’s shoulder and hip surgery. All my symptoms mimicked my husbands labral tear and he said maybe we should see if this was a hip issue. I made an appointment and we did another X-Ray of my lower back since he thought my symptoms sounded like lower back pain. Again he found that my lower back appeared to have some degeneration between the lower discs, so he sent me to get a lower back MRI done. Another round of tests on my back. Another month of getting these done and going back to read them.

The results of that first MRI showed that I had lost the gel-like fluid in between discs L4&L5 which happens as that tissue degenerates (knew this already). Overtime you loose the soft cushion between those discs and that can impact nerves. Even though I knew this could be part of the issue, I was not ready to go and see a pain management doctor or get an injection in my spine which is what we recommended. He recommended PT and I was over it all, I didn’t need ANOTHER few weeks of trying something out,  I wanted answers sine this was now almost 5 months of NO RELIEF!

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This was my spine after two months of chiropractor care in the orthopedic doctors office after my second imagining of my back. Some major improvement but still pain

My orthopedic doctor right away wanted to send me to get a shot in my back and I didn’t think this was the answer. He never even put me on the table to test my range of motion so I was my own advocate and said “I want you to hear my hip popping.” I wanted him to test my range of motion. I wanted to show him where this hurt. Finally he said maybe you are right.  Literally now a days you get 15 minutes with a doctor and that’s it. It’s awful. So he ordered a hip arthogram. Another visit to another facility, another day off of work….

Back to focus on the hip….Hip Arthogram & MRI

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The MRI machine I went in after the dye was injected into my hip joint

I was sent to get a Hip Arthogram- that is when they inject a dye or contrast right into the hip joint to be able to see if there are any tears in your labrum or other areas of the hips soft tissue under an MRI. The hip arthogram is uncomfortable, but not painful. They numb the skin and then inject a very long needle into the front area of the hip all the way to the hip joint, then inject the dye/contrast and also inject some pain medicine. Below is an image of the dye that is placed right into the labrum area which looks like the band around the ball of the hip socket. They also use an ultrasound to ensure they place the contract properly.

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It was numb but just felt like weird pressure. After that you go into the MRI machine and they do all the imaging and you go home and then make an appointment to meet your doctor to review the tests. I was really hoping to get some answers, even if those answers meant I had a torn labrum in my hip and needed surgery. He didn’t read my MRI in front of me but quickly said I have no tears, which is great news, but I do have tendonopothy in my gluteus minimum and gluteus maximus muslces which is causing major pain and discomfort. To be honest, when I heard that I didn’t think it made sense.

Sure I have some inflammation but I still don’t believe that is the source of all this pain for six months. I had stopped working out for over two months, don’t eat inflammatory foods and was taking anti inflammatory supplements. So I was not confident in this doctors reading or the fact he spent so little time with me and every appointment was spread out over weeks of me just living in pain. I was so frustrated.

hip arthogram injection dye MRI

When I had the arthogram done they also injected my hip joint with pain medicine. I was told “if you get relief from the medicine even for a few days it is an indication you have damage in your hip”. For three days after my injection I was pain free. It was the best feeling to not constantly be popping my hip, twisting to crack my lower back in my chair, shifting my weight while driving, standing or sitting. Yet my doctor said “he” saw no tear but I don’t even know if he read my MRI or his tech did. All I know is anytime I went to see him I’d wait in the waiting room for over two hours and he’d spend 10 minutes with me. So he saw no tear apparently and said go talk to the back doctor.

Back and Spine Doctor

I was then sent to a Pain Management center to talk to a back/spine. The entire place was a pain management place so everyone of course acts like you’re there with a fake injury looking for pain meds. I didn’t want pills I wanted answers! It felt cold, unwelcoming, it had over 40 people in the waiting room and I could tell the peoeple didn’t even read my charts. I brought all my discs, again, and she opened them in the room.

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The lady spent all of ten minutes with me. She didn’t read up on my story and as soon as she walked it it was another “so tell me why you’re here”. I had a list of every single thing I had gone through for 10 months on paper to be OVERLY prepared to not let her tell me to try anything else, lady i’ve tried it all, and I was beyond upset the entire time. She read my back MRI and wanted to do injections right away. I showed her my pain spots and asked “are you sure this is my back or is it my hip”to which she replied “well we wont know til we do the injection to see if it helps your pain. If it does we know it’s your back”.Didn’t I just go through this with my hip?! Now I have to wait two weeks to get the injections, another 3 weeks for a follow up and even then you may not have answers. After I left they said they’d call to schedule me to get injected, and they never even called me. It was like God was telling me to skip it and go find a second opinion…which I did.

Third Time is a Charm – TriCounty Orthopedics

I was told about a doctor who performed a hip labrum surgery on my husbands boss and that she had a fantastic experience. His name was Dr. Hunt and he worked for TriCounty Orthopedics in New Jersey. From the moment I walked it I felt at peace, welcomed, calm, no long waits and no pressure at all to hurry up and rush me out of there.

He opened up my charts and started to point things out to me on my MRI. He went through every detail and found a FAI pincher bone spur/impingement and labrum tear, right there in front of my eyes. Third times a charm I suppose because the other doctor didn’t even read my MRI in front of me or wiht me. He showed me right on the MRI imaging and I saw it clear as day. We did motion tests and it all made sense.

So what is FAI?

Femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) is a condition in which extra bone grows along one or both of the bones that form the hip joint — giving the bones an irregular shape. Because they do not fit together perfectly, the bones rub against each other during movement. Over time this friction can damage the joint, causing pain and limiting activity.

types of femoroacetabular impingement

There are three types of FAI: pincer, cam, and combined impingement.

I have a Pincer. This type of impingement occurs because extra bone extends out over the normal rim of the acetabulum. The labrum can be crushed under the prominent rim of the acetabulum. The goal of surgery is to repair the torn labrum and then reanchor it and shave off the excess bone.

img 2587 jpg 2We discussed trying physical therapy but honestly I was tired of waiting. I have never had this kind of surgery and was nervous but I knew I needed it. We discussed my options and a few days later I called back to schedule surgery. I was ready. I wanted to be pain free and this was not going to heal on their own. The date was lucky # June 13 and mentally I was prepared, but I had to get a lot in order and get time off from work since I would need to be out for at least 3-4 weeks.

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So here I am after months of research and even though I am scared, it’s time. I am going to share my entire FAI surgery and recovery to help others. I hope this will help you all who may be dealing with this too. I will share my surgery itself so you know what to expect, what to buy prior to surgery, and then week by week how recovery is going for me. Overall I have to say that mentally it was challenging to prepare for surgery but I was also very excited to just get this chapter of my life over with and back on the road to good health again. A lot of it is a mental challenge and going in with a positive mindset is so important knowing that in the end this will all be worth it.

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I hope this helps those of you suffering with pain right now and not getting the proper answers. I am a true believer in being your own health advocate and never stop searching for the truth and find doctors that you truly trust and believe in. I am so glad that I found the answers I was so desperately looking for and that now after surgery I’m already feeling so much better. Well surgery was not particularly the answer I was hoping for I’m just glad I got some answer of what I could do to fix things and make myself feel better.

Welcome to my FAI Journey and Story. I hope you will join me on this very interesting time of my life and I’m really happy to share it with all of you.

Stay tuned and check out my other posts.

If you have ANY questions please leave them in the comments below. And if you have an FAI surgery story please share it too to help anyone else reading

 

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The writer and creator of JerseyGirlTalk.com – a blog dedicated to inspiring and helping readers to feel and look their very best both inside and out. I love writing, photography, makeup, fashion and fitness.







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