I was sure surgery was the only option.
Last week I received word that my MRI came back positive for a small labral tear in the right hip. I suspected this would be the diagnosis, and frankly I was happy to finally have a diagnosis after a year of suffering the chronic pain. Back when I was still going to physio, he was treating me as though I had a labral tear. After a couple months of weekly appointments, sometimes bi-weekly, there was minimal improvement. That’s when we decided it was time for x-rays and an arthrogram MRI.
Time has not healed. Physio has not healed. Like I said, I thought for sure surgery was my only option to heal.
Friends gave me teary eyed emojis at the mention of surgery, family tried convincing me otherwise. But the thing is, I don’t want to spend my life in pain. I don’t want to be the mom who could only play a few minutes with her boy before succumbing to the aches. I don’t want thoughts of a rapidly aging body to cloud nearly every movement I make. And frankly, I bloody well want my once extremely flexible body to get that gum-like stretch back.
Surgery was not scary for me. A life of a pain was.
Still, I thought I would have months to mull it over. Surgeons usually have crazy long waitlists; the doc told me to expect at least a four-month wait before even talking to the surgeon. But then, just one day after meeting with the doc, the surgeon’s office called. Apparently one of the benefits of going through the university hospital is students get preference. Five days after learning the diagnosis, two days after seeing the doc, I was in the surgeon’s office.
“I would HEAVILY caution against surgery,” the surgeon said, almost right off the hip, er, I mean hop ????
Hip arthroscopic surgery is a straight-forward procedure for the surgeon, he told me. It’s day surgery, just 1.5 hours, no biggie – for him. For the patient it sucks, he said.
Because the hip is tricky, he would have to dislocate the joint to get in and have a look around. I got queasy just hearing it. Patient recovery is extensive. Inflammation is severe. I would be on crutches for a month, no running, no weight-bearing activities, no carrying my kid for at least three months. Full recovery would be a minimum six months.
I suspected almost all of that and had come to terms with most of it – if it took the ache away.
There’s a high probability it won’t, he told me.
There’s a very real chance it could make things worse, he told me.
You may be even more limited than you are now, he told me.
Possibly no running at all.
So here’s the thing no one told me: labral tears are common. Sixty to seventy per cent of the North American population in their 40s (not quite there!) suffer labral tears, sometimes without even knowing.
My labral tear is small. The MRI, which scanned eight sections of my right hip, detected “focal detachment of the anterior-superior labrum” in images seven and eight, which indicate a tear. The rest of the labrum appeared intact. What this means is I can’t squat for long periods, I can’t sit criss-cross apple sauce, or plain just sit for extended periods without my body painfully revolting. Yet, it does NOT prevent me from running. Running causes it no pain, not during, not after.
Surgery could take that away.
That’s not cool.
The surgeon spent a good 20 to 30 minutes going through the surgery process, recovery rates, alternatives. He told me he would do the surgery, but every two seconds (or so it seemed) cautioned against it.
Instead of surgery, I have opted for the less invasive procedure of getting a cortisone shot injected into the joint to see if that helps take the annoying ache away. It’s not a perfect solution. Apparently I am limited to a total of three cortisone shots in one joint in my lifetime. Cortisone can eat away at cartilage, which also really kinda sucks. We’ll wait and see what happens.
In the meantime…