Hip replacement surgur

My Hip Replacement Journey Part 2: Increasing Pain, Decreasing Performance

My left hip has been a little tighter than my right for years. I first noticed it when I started taking strength training more seriously, about ten years ago. I wanted to train like an athlete to stem the tide of nagging injuries that were keeping me off the ultimate frisbee field. 

And it worked! It’s one of the reasons I’m a trainer today – to give aging athletes hope that they can continue to do the activities that bring them joy well into their later decades.

Once I started on a regular training program, I have a distinct memory of needing to do extra work on my left hip b/c it was tighter and weaker than the right. A physical therapist mentioned I might be headed for surgery, which I was not at all ready to consider. 

I was too young. Too healthy. I was just a little tight, a little weak on that left side, but I could run, jump and play competitively. 

Until I couldn’t. 

About 5 years ago, in 2019, I strained my left adductor/groin while playing ultimate. I was playing defense, shuffling to the left to keep up with my opponent. When they quickly accelerated in the other direction, I planted my left foot into the ground and tried to push off to the right. I immediately felt a sharp, burning pain in my inner/upper leg. I had to limp off the field.

After that, despite all the PT, chiropractic, acupuncture, yoga, strength and nervous system training, I never got my strength and range of motion back. In fact, it seemed that it was just getting tighter, weaker and more painful as the months and years went by. 

I stopped playing ultimate on the grass in 2021, and switched to the beach. Running on sand, though difficult, is much easier on the joints. 

Despite that, I had to rely more and more on NSAIDs to be able to play at all, and by the fall of 2023 I was taking them not only to play, but so I could get through the day and work without too much pain. But even with little to no pain, I couldn’t move my hip much at all or put much weight on my leg. It was making work and daily life a physical, mental and emotional struggle. 

I started seeing Dr. Marie Biek, a NUCCA chiropractor in Oakland, CA. Her type of chiropractic is very gentle and focuses on the upper neck. It helped with back pain I was experiencing within a session or two. And after a few weeks of treatment, according to her measurements, my spine was aligned. But I still had the hip pain, and she was concerned something else was going on. She took an x-ray of my hip and showed me how degenerated the joint was. She strongly recommended I see an orthopedist. 

My quality of life had degraded so much I was finally ready to consider the possibility of medical intervention. Though I still held out hope that a cortisone shot, or some other minimally invasive procedure would be all that I would need.

I made the appointment, and will share the next steps on this journey in next week’s post. 

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