It’s been years since I had to use a wheelchair to get around, and today my hip is 100% healed and pain free.
What I learned in going through all of this changed my life and today I want to share my story with you on a personal level.
A Downward Spiral in Health
Months of resting went by and still, I saw little progress with my hip.
I was in school at the time to become a firefighter, and I needed my body to function at its best ability in order to complete schooling and to go on to get hired. I was not in a great deal of pain, but if I attempted to run I felt a sharp pull deep in my left hip socket every time my foot hit the ground.
Even though the feeling wasn’t extremely painful, it made me scared because I felt extremely unstable in an area that had always just worked for my entire life. I became nervous that all of the efforts I had put into firefighting school so far were going to be wasted if I couldn’t get this hip thing to heal.
Growing up I was always into sports. I played basketball, ran track and cross country in high school, and played lacrosse in college. Out of all the injuries I had ever been through, nothing was like this. Previous injuries were always an obvious incident, then pain, then usually some black and blue colors, and a clear way to let it heal.
I wished this was like all those other times, but it wasn’t. There was never a distinct injury. It wasn’t like I fell off my bike or got hit by a car. I was just out for a run one day and when I was on my first mile I felt this weird pull in my left groin area. That’s it, no trip to the emergency room, no black and blue, nothing to pinpoint as the clear problem.
With a background in fitness, and a certification in personal training as a corrective exercise specialist, I set out to try to fix my hip. I stretched my hip flexors, foam rolled, and did tons of core exercises. Nothing helped, and I was extremely disappointed when the problem only continued to get worse.
At this point I realized my problem was serious, and I started reaching out for help. I went to see a sports medicine doctor who told me there was probably some soft tissue inflammation in my hip. He recommended a regimen of rest, ice, and anti-inflammatories, all of which I followed religiously as prescribed.
After about six months of resting my hip things only continued to get worse. I went from only feeling a dull ache in my hip to feeling constant levels of pain deep in my hip socket. At times it just ached, other times the pain was sharp like a dagger that shot through my entire pelvis and lower back.
With every step I took the pain continue to build until it started to feel like someone was scraping a knife back and forth over my hip socket with every single movement. There was no escaping the pain. Not even when I went to sleep. I woke up throughout the night with the pain. There was no position of real comfort in bed. Pain killers didn’t seem to do much.
Chronic pain became my life, and it consumed me totally – mentally and physically.
My Desperate Search for A Solution
At this point my search for a solution to my hip problem literally became my life. I went to several orthopedic doctors to get different opinions. I had x-rays, MRIs and CT scans. Finally, I was diagnosed with thins thing called a labral tear with hip impingement. I went on to learn that a labral tear is something that can happen to the cartilage that forms sort of a rim around the socket part of the hip when the thigh bone comes in contact repetitively with the hip socket. This tear to the cartilage can cause pain and even a catching sensation in the hip which both described what I was going through.
At first, I was elated to finally have a diagnosis. I couldn’t help but think that now that I know what the problem is, I can fix it! But my relief quickly evaporated when I realized that just because I had this diagnosis it didn’t mean that I found a solution to the pain. My doctor suggested surgery, but even he was skeptical that I it would actually help with the pain.
I wanted to try other solutions before going the surgery rout, so I went to see a chiropractor that came highly recommended to me. I started going in for regular adjustments, and even though the adjustments helped temporarily the pain always came back after just one or two days.
I went to see several massage therapists. The massages always seemed to help with tension and stress relief, but they never got the pain to go away. Eventually I stopped going because I felt like I was putting my money down the drain.
I was exhausted from going to so many different appointments. I learned to not get my hopes up anymore because everything I had tried so far had been a letdown. I also quickly realized that I could no longer afford to keep paying different specialists for treatment, especially after having to cut my hours down at work because of the problems I was having.
My doctor prescribed physical therapy, which was covered under my insurance, so gladly I followed through with the appointments. I was let down yet again when most of the exercises only exacerbated my pain. When I explained this to my physical therapist he seemed frustrated, and he told me that I needed to do something to get stronger. I eventually stopped going to see the physical therapist because I just couldn’t deal with the increased pain levels it caused. I was already so taxed from being in pain all the time that the smallest set-back had a devastating impact on me both physically and emotionally.
Eventually I couldn’t walk. I had to start using crutches to get around. It was difficult for me to grasp going from be an extremely fit, active 27-year-old, to having to hobble around with crutches, with no real cause or explanation.
After a while, the crutches got to be so cumbersome they even made the pain in my hip worse. I finally reluctantly resorted to using a wheelchair to get around.
Not only was the wheelchair embarrassing, but it was extremely awkward to get around in, especially in the tight hallways and corners of my house. The smallest thing like getting out of bed and going down the hall to use the bathroom because a huge event that would put me in more pain for hours.
I started to feel like I was always having to ask my friends and family for favors because I couldn’t do anything myself. I couldn’t drive because of the pain levels I was in, so this meant I needed to ask for a ride every single time I had an appointment with a doctor or a specialist of some kind. Eventually this put a strain on my relationships and I started to feel like I was being a burden on everyone in my life.
I started to isolate myself from the people in my life more and more. I felt like I wasn’t myself anymore and I just didn’t want to be around anyone.
Click here to read part two of my story where I share about the simple technique that brought me hope and about my dilemma of going through with the hip surgery or not.