Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Wow - Two Years?

So its been a while since my last post. I thought I'd share what's been going on.

I finished culinary school. I worked for about a year as a part time pastry cook (full time was too hard on the hips). After a year I realized that my hips were going to break and crumble into dust, or so it felt, if I continued with the pastry work. And after some swallowing of pride and bitter pills (figuratively, of course), I decided to do some searching and find another avenue, career, path, etc.

In May I finished my first semester of grad school for my Masters of Library and Information Science. Library work has always been something that interested me and you can't walk in our house for books, so it seemed a natural fit. I love it. I even started volunteering at the local library 2 days a week.

But the hips kept getting worse, especially in the last 6 months or so. Oh, and I've lost my health insurance again! I will be getting it back in the fall through school, but it will be less then great quality coverage. Anyhoo, I've been wanting to exercise for soooo long now (years) but everything I tried hurt the hips. Elliptical machine? No way! Stationary Bike? Eh-Eh. Well, I finally sucked it up and decided that I must force myself to drive to the town rec center 3-4 times per week and swim.

Oh My God! Swimming RULES! I take aqua aerobics (with the septuagenarians) twice a week and I swim laps the other days and it feels amazing. If anyone out there lives with any sort of chronic joint pain, I say, "Get Thee To A Pool!!!" Even just standing in the water reminds us of what it was like *before* the pain. I am pain free in the pool. I am graceful and lithe and I swim like a fish. Its wonderful. And when I am not in the pool, the hips are better, less achey, more durable. This gives me hope. I like hope!

So I say to all of you hipsters out there - GET WET!


  1. I just found your blog, because I too am starting a blog on this same subject! I am 26, and will be having my second PAO on my right hip this Thursday, July 9th. I have had constant, debilitating pain on my right side for two years, but my surgeon insisted my left side was more dysplastic. So in September 2008 I had a PAO on my left side, making the right side WORSE! I am 9 months out of surgery, and my left side is doing well, although it never really bothered me that much. I have been in so much pain and gone through rehab in pain, just to do it all over again. I know exactly what you mean when you say you want to get it over with! Thursday can't come soon enough!

    Thank you for your honest and extremely informational insight on this procedure, and putting it out there for the few of us that want to know we are not alone!

  2. Thank You Alycia! When I started this thing, it was in tribute to the only blog/journal I could find on the topic which helped me immensely. Just reading about someone else dealing with all of the crap that hip dysplasia brings up made me feel better, more "in control" of a very surprising and out of control situation.

    I'm glad you found me too. Anything question I can answer, I am more than happy too!!

    Thanks Again!

    You made my day!


  3. Dear Heather,

    I am very glad I found your blog. To make things more clearer, I also have hip dyplasia. There are a few questions I want to ask you.

    First, a problem that bothers me from hip dyplasia is the "walk" I have obtained. Although it is not too apparent, it really irritates me sometimes.

    Second, since both of my hips are dyplastic, I could not close my legs properly.

    The question that I wanted to ask you regarding is whether or not the surgery "corrects" those problems? Eg. does your hip/s operate normally after surgery and the pain disappears?

    Your response will be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you

  4. Hi Coby,

    I'm not sure I can answer your question as it is different for every person who has the surgery. For me, after surgery the pain did not disappear. I still have pain. It is in significantly less amounts, but it is still present.

    Mechanically my "walk" or gait is much better. Much closer to normal.

    As for closing my legs, I can do that. But I can not cross them at the knee while seated. The surgery definitely took away some of my flexibility, but increased my stability.

    Its a trade off, but in my case, it was worth it for the pain reduction.

    I know for some people, post surgery all pain is gone and they return to normal gait and everything. I guess its just different for each person and can depend on a lot of factors, including degree of dysplasia, weight, whether arthritis is present in the hip, etc.

    Good luck with everything! Let me know if you have any other questions!!


  5. Good to find your blog - I second the hydrotherapy recommendation - I'm just doing my own pool exercises as set by my physio (ie not a class) twice a week, and LOVE it.

    I'm so sorry about having to change career because of your hips, that really sucks BIG time. I hope you're enjoying your new path.

  6. Hi Heather!
    I'm 26 years old having this problem only at my right hip. at this stage I don't have pains unless I walk more than an hour. my docs say I need to have PAO but I'm afriad to do that surgery and turn to have a chronic pain there. Is it better to wait another 10 years to have a full replacement of the hip instead?? I know this kind of surgery is much less complicated than PAO

    also- you wrote that stationary bike is not good to the hip .. why? there is no wheigt on the hip because you are sitting on them . my docs say that I can do them in addition to swimming. Am I hurting my self?

    sorry about my bad English, I'm not an English speaker :-(

    I would be glad to hear from you!!

  7. Miri - I would go with your doctors. A lot of people with hip dysplasia need to have the PAO for correct the angle of their hip before they can even have a THR, so its better to get the PAO out of the way while your younger and fit.

    Most people have wonderful results from their PAO and my results were good too. My results probably would have been better if I hadn't waited so long for the PAO. I had to wait b/c I didn't have insurance for a long time. If I had insurance and could have gotten it done right away, I might be pain free today.

    ALso, you won't be hurting yourself on a bicycle. The stationary bike just didn't work for me. For some people its great, for some its not. Listen to your body, if it doesn't feel good or causes joint pain the next day, talk to your doctor.

    I do highly recommend swimming though! I'm still swimming 3 times a week and I love it. My hips have never felt better! I take water aerobics and sometimes just swim laps and its wonderful.

    Good Luck with everything!


  8. Anonymous4:24 PM

    Hello, Heather: I found your blog by accident. I am 56 & diagnosed with hip dysplasia & resultant arthrosis/arthritis & a labral tear in one hip; hip dysplasia to a lesser degree in the left hip; dislocation in both knees, due to structural problem. Orthopedic surgeons told me I'll probably have to have replacement surgery in all 4 joints someday, but were vague as to when that might be. Compared to a lot of people I can get along well; walking indoors on cushioned floors & cushioned shoes enables me to walk quite a bit. Carrying heavy tote bags & lifting things really does a number on the hip & groin, though. I'm overweight & have been stumped for what kind of exercise to do, to lose the weight, help my heart but also not add problems to my joints. Stationery biking feels great to me, but I've been advised to only do it about 10 minutes at a time. I really hate swimming and water sports. Any suggestions? I love to walk but am afraid to do it enough to get my heart rate up. Right now I just need to shed 20 lbs. to start; I know that will help, but without exercise it's hard. I have a sedentary job. Thanks for any tips. Cyndi

  9. Hi Cyndi! I hate to say it and I know you hate it but anything in the water is so amazing for the joints. I take water aerobics or water cross training 3x/week and its awesome. I get a real cardio workout and its strenghening. The more muscle you build, the more efficient your metabolism runs, the more weight you lose. I was not a big fan of the pool either and I avoided it for years (the sight of myself in a suit was reason enough) but no one cares what you look like at the pool. In fact, I've found out that there are a ton of people with joint problems at my pool and they have gotten really fit from water work.

    What finally sold me on regular pool work was how great my joints felt when I was in the water. On land, I am clumsy, awkward, and usually in at least some sort of mild pain. In the pool, I feel graceful, I feel like a kid and, most importantly, I feel normal and by normal I mean pain free.

    After a work out I just feel good, muscle sore. My joints are fine and I feel fit. Most pools around here let you try out classes for free.

    Like I said, I was not a fan and only tried it when I got desperate, but I'm glad I did!

    Good Luck!!!


  10. Anonymous11:24 PM

    Hi Heather. I just found your blog. I am 33 and diagnosed with mild-moderate dysplasia on right hip. I'm at approx. 15 degrees, if that makes sense. I have had an osteotomy consultation and the (arrogant but extremely skilled) surgeon wasn't sure it was the right thing to do at this point. His issue with it is that I don't have pain in the joint (i.e. in the groin). My pain is mostly muscular (in the abductors and adductors)resulting from overuse and compensation for the lack of stability in the joint, and pain in SI joint from altered gait. My options are to try PT and wait until the pain gets unbearable (at this point it definitely interferes with my life, it's a constant ache and stiffness but not unbearable) or insist on an osteotomy. Do you have any thoughts/suggestions?

  11. Hi Anna,

    The only thing I'd be worried about re: waiting for surgery is that there is such a thing as missing your window for the surgery. If you wait too long, you can have too damaged a joint for optimal surgical results. I've also heard the argument of - why wait until i'm in pain if this will prevent the pain from happening?

    Basically you want to make sure that your extremely skilled surgeon is very familiar with this surgery. Familiar as in has assisted on/performed several. You want someone who is familiar with not only the surgery but with long and short term prognosis.

    Ultimately, its a decision you have to make. If I hadn't waited so long, I may have gotten a better result from my surgery.

    Food for thought....not very helpful but something to think about.

    good luck and feel free to keep me updated!

  12. Anonymous8:34 PM

    Thanks for your feedback. I just saw my ortho Dr today to evaluate a hip MRI. It showed some labral tears. My joint is at 16 degrees coverage, whereas the low end of normal is 25 degrees. My Dr said that he can normally give people a pretty good idea of whether they should pursue surgery or not, but he said my case is in the gray area and he can't really steer me one way or another. So he basically left it up to me to decide. Ugh. The surgeon is a specialist at the Mayo Clinic with 17 years experience in performing osteotomy surgeries, so I know it would get done right. It's a hard decision to make...live with some pain, or go through a very complicated surgery that doesn't guarantee all my issues will go away?


  13. I'm 19 years old, and have had hip pain all of my life. Its gotten worse since around the time I turned 14. I have had x-rays and an MRI, and even went to physical therapy. No doctor has been able to figure out what is wrong with me, although usually their efforts stopped as soon as their idea failed (like when the x-ray and mri didn't show anything). I finally asked my new doctor to refer me to a hip doctor, and while I was describing my pain she wondered if I had hip dyspepsia.

    All of the symptoms mentioned in the blog and on the comments, I have felt as well... its like someone finally knows the pain I am feeling, and that I'm not just making it up. When I make an appointment with the hip doctor, what do you recommend I should ask him, tell him, etc. And what goal should I seek from the visit?

    I'm 19 and I walk like an 80 year old. I'm hoping that finally one doctor wont give up on me. Do you have any advice for me to help the doctor understand what I'm going through, or just how to get through this myself. I'm in college trying to become a kindergarten teacher, and I worry that in 5 years I wont be able to stand at the front of my classroom. My pain started to affect my daily activities when I was 6, I'm anxious to get this figured out...

  14. Wow CJ! That sucks!!! Hopefully you'll get this figured out soon. I had a dr. mis-diagnose me once as having pulled a groin muscle in my sleep. Yeah - right!

    OK, what to tell your doctor. I would flat out ask him to look for hip dysplasia. Explain that you have a grinding and popping joint pain. They should have you xrays with your legs frogged out and again straight. These two angles are commonly used to diagnose hip dysplasia. You can also explain that the pain gets worse with prolonged activity (assuming that it does) and that it is seriously starting to effect your quality of life. If this guy is a hip specialist, or an Orthopedic surgeon, all of those statements should trigger him to look for dysplasia.

    Good luck and keep us informed. Also, join some of the hip support groups out there like HipWomen. Its full of people with a ton of knowledge and a lot of love.


Hi Guys. I don't really check this much anymore. You are welcome to comment though, I just can't always promise you a personal response. I do hope this blog has helped though!