So, why did I get hip arthroscopy surgery? What were my symptoms? How did I decide to go through with it? Was it weightlifting? CrossFit?
A gal named Julie reached out to me on Instagram about my surgery and pointed out that she tried finding out what exactly my injury was and what I did prior to deciding to go through with the surgery but couldn’t find it on my blog. Made me realize that turns out I don’t have have it all laid out in one spot – doh!
Well, I don’t have an exact timeline but to put things into perspective, my surgery was on November 16, 2016 and I had been dealing with my hip pain for about a year and a half, so roughly since June 2015. So, we’ll work from that rough timeline.
June 2015: The beginning of hip pain began in heavy squats in the weightlifting cycle I was on. It was a very dull but very deep pain in the right groin area. It would mostly happen coming out of the squat aka the time when you’re fighting internal rotation. I rested from any squatting for about couple weeks, did lot of mobility, then came back to it. Still had hip pain. Coaches, fellow athletes, all tried diagnosing what it could be. As is one of the usual culprits, it was thought I had a PSOAS issue, so that was worked on for a while. Hip pain continued. Stubborn me would lay off aggravating the hip for a bit, do some mobility, then go back to squatting – vicious cycle.
January 2016: Around this time is when I decided to begin getting A.R.T. treatment (Active Release Technique) for not only my hip issue but also a shoulder stabilization issue I was having. If you’re an athlete, I definitely recommend this treatment to loosen tight muscles and get rid of any “junk” that is in there. Athletes get to a point where there is only so much you can do to yourself. Anyway, Dr. Eric Yu was amazing in working on me and getting me healthy (he has since moved to Thailand, but other Doctors there are great, too). With the shoulder, I ultimately had an impingement problem that could easily have been caused from office job and shoulders rolling forward too much and too often in conjunction with what I do in the gym, causing “junk” to build up and causing the tissues to “glue” together. He sure did get lot of that junk out….and oh boy does it hurt…
But with the hip, because of how and where it hurt (internal rotation), he told me it is possible that I have a hip labrum tear. But of course there is no way to verify that without an MRI. He advised I give my hip REAL rest…as in not go below parallel with or without weight or continue to aggravate it for a few weeks, since I hadn’t really given it real rest beyond a couple weeks before….whoops.
April 2016: This month I competed in my very last weightlifting meet. While dealing with both a shoulder stability and hip issue at this time, preparing for this meet had me not going very heavy in a full squat or overhead so my coach took a very conservative approach to my lifts. I did not go very heavy in competition. Not how I had planned for my first sanctioned weightlifting meet to go, but it is what it is. But how sweet was my singlet? Check out The Snortlife Singlets – custom singlets by Cortney Bachelor, American Record holder (86kg snatch), two-time National champion weightlifter and Pan Am team member.
And right after the meet my coach stopped programming anything below parallel and gave my shoulder a break as well. Going insane in my limitations, I finally made the decision to go see Quinn Henoch, DPT of Juggernaut Systems. I had heard amazing things about his knowledge, heard people refer to him as a “movement wizard”. I’ve mentioned him before many times in previous posts but it’s because he’s been great in this whole janky journey for me. He knows his shit and knows exactly what I want to get back to – because he does it himself. Anyway, he is also very much about doing EVERYTHING you can before resorting to surgery or even before getting an MRI. Little known fact: there are so many athletes with tears in their bodies but have no clue because they have no pain and function normally. So, yes, it is very possible to have tears without pain and live on normally as an athlete. So after evaluating all my movements and positions, he prescribed exercises and drills for me to do diligently to correct some bad positioning I had while strengthening muscle imbalances I had in both shoulder and hip. His prescribed shoulder and hip drills plus a 30 Day Shoulder Fix by Crossover Symmetry and slowly introducing load to shoulders had my shoulders feeling much much better. But my hip? No go. No better – and no worse at least – than before.
May 2016: I finally scheduled an appointment to see a hip specialist surgeon. It also concerned Dr. Huber how and where it hurt so an MRI with contrast (and cortisone injection) and X-Ray were ordered. After that VERY uncomfortable MRI with contrast, I got my results: large labrum tear due to pincer and cam FAI (Femoroacetabular Impingement). Basically, I was predisposed to this happening due to my hip bone structure in the hips that do not fit together perfectly, therefore, the bones rub against each other during movement causing friction and damage to the joints. And because I am very active in a sport with repetitive movement and I have really good ROM in my hips, it was bound to happen. So no, weightlifting or CrossFit did not cause this, it basically would have happened in any sport with repetitive movement and/or cutting footwork involved. Fun fact, I have the same bone structure on the left side, but I don’t have pain, but he did warn me that it’s a possibility that I may have the same issue on left side in the future. Dr. huber pointed out that if I were a couch potato it may not have happened but as an active person it would have happened in almost any sport that has cutting and repetitive movements. Well…..damn. If the doctor was the goat…
I asked what my options are and he basically told me that I have done everything he would have recommended as non-surgical options (PT, correct imbalances, strengthen surrounding muscles, give it rest, etc). He added that surgery is one of the other options aside from PRP or Stem Cell. He said I could always try those, but they’re very expensive and not covered by insurance generally because they’re still technically experimental and the chances of it alleviating pain permanently aren’t too high due to the hip labrum not having a blood supply and the bone friction against the labrum. He told me that I’m a great candidate for hip arthroscopy because I’m young (fun fact: he kept thinking I was 23 BAHAHA) and would recover well with my athletic base. He went over what would have to be done in surgery which was basically go in through two or three ports via scope and repair the labrum tears with anchors and also sculpt the femur and acetabula to prevent this from happening again. He advised me to get a second opinion for my peace of mind and so that I know he’s not just pushing surgery on me.
June 2016: After some major lagging on my part, I finally went to get a second opinion, with Dr Saliman and he confirmed the results, and added, “It’s pretty bad in there, you really grinded away at the labrum by powering through for so long.”
Thank you, Captain Obvious. I mean, to be honest, I did appreciate his honesty and how blunt he was. He also added, “I’d recommend getting this taken care of sooner rather than later for multiple reasons but the main one being that if you don’t, you’re guaranteeing yourself a hip replacement when your older because your hard cartilage will be nonexistent at this rate.”
No, thank you. Ultimately, I did not feel as at ease with Dr. Saliman as I did with Dr. Huber, so if I were to pursue surgery, it would be with Dr. Huber.
September 2016: After mulling it over for a couple months (and putting it off), I made the decision to go through with the surgery. A big reason had always been my yearning to get back to Weightlifting pain free and without restriction but my hip pain had began to effect my daily life in the last few months. Being on my feet for more than a couple hours had me in hip pain at the end of day. Sitting for too long, too. Driving for more than 30 minutes, too. That is no way to live. I consulted with Quinn, DPT about it and he agreed that surgery seems like the right path for what I’m dealing with and everything I’ve tried. I’m young (in the scheme of things), have an athletic strength base that will help in recovery and have a great job with great benefits, so, why not? I went ahead and scheduled my surgery for November 16, 2016. I chose November rather than immediately because I already had a mini vacation booked and planned to Arizona beginning of November.
November 2016: Prior to surgery I squeezed in as much adventure as I could that I wouldn’t be able to do once I had surgery, like road trips, hiking, walking all over town, I even misbehaved and squatted in an in-house gym competition. Then surgery day came, and I went over all of that in this post.