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7 Things I Wish I Knew BEFORE Having Arthroscopic Hip Surgery

If you’re going to work out, there’s always the possibility of getting hurt.

And you’ll never know when you need tape, staples, gum, or glue (like the in the picture above) to hold yourself together! Well, not literally of course. But you can get hurt working out. That’s not meant to be disclaimer – although I guess it is. It’s just the reality of being a weekend warrior!

But don’t let that stop you! You can get hurt in a variety of ways:

     …walking down the street

     …driving to work

     …closing a door

     …getting up off the couch

     …stepping in a hole while walking along the beach

     …even sneezing (been there done that too, that’s how I got my first herniated disk in my back!!!)

In fact, here are some really strange ways to get injured.

Of course, be safe. Listen to your body. Get help from a fitness trainer at the gym. Don’t do exercises you’re not ready to handle. All common sense, right?

But you never know when you’ll pull a muscle, strain a joint, or sometimes even worse.

For me, the big one happened while snowboarding. I’m a decent skiier, but snowboarding was new for me. It looked like fun – and it was. Until…

My foot slipped off the board while getting off the chairlift, and I did a split. I’ve always been in good shape, but flexibility? Well, let’s just say I’m not contortionist.

One foot stuck in the snow, while the other kept sliding down the slope on the snowboard, and rippppp…

it happened. At first I thought “no big deal, I’m ok”. But I quickly realized I wasn’t. I made it through the day, but the pain didn’t stop. I went to a few doctors but they just thought I pulled a few muscles.

You may never be 100% of what you were, but you can always be 100% of who you are

Fast forward 3 months, and I finally found a new doctor who diagnosed me with a tear of the hip labrum (also known as Femoroacetabular Impingement or FAI for short). I could rest a little longer, but it wouldn’t really heal on its own. Or I could go for surgery. 3-4 month rehab, but I should be as good as new.

Well, wrong. There were no horror stories about the doctor or hospital. The surgery was actually a success. But when he went in to fix the tear, he found a lot more damage than he thought, a lot of extra bone on my femur (called an impingement) and a lot of arthritis he didn’t see earlier.

I realize many people have it a lot worse than I do. And I can still move around OK, still work out. I can run once in a while. And I’m hoping to hit the slopes (skiing, no more snowboarding for me!) this winter for the first time in nearly 3 years.

So I’m not complaining.

There are lots of people who had to overcome a lot more than a snowboarding accident. It’s just hard not being the same as I was before surgery. If you think you have it bad, or if you need a little perspective, here’s a great story:

But if you end up needing surgery, even for something “minor”, for any body part not just your hips, I hope it goes really well and you are back to normal in no time at all. But keep the following points in mind just in case:

7 things I wish I knew before my hip surgery

1) Just because it’s arthroscopic doesn’t mean the whole thing is “minor”

For me that was a big miss. The surgery itself may have been minor. But the damage, the repair, and the rehab was far from minor. 2 years later I’m still not back to normal, and because of the damage I never will be. Every day is still an adventure. I figured 3 hard months of rehab (4 months at most) and I’d be back running the same as before. Nope. Your body heals differently at 50 than it does at 20, or 30, or even 40. I’m at peace with the “new normal” (well, mostly at peace) but it’s not easy.

2) If you don’t like what you hear from one doctor, go see another.

When I first got injured and didn’t know what the injury was, I went to my physical therapist, family doctor, internal doctor (for a possible hernia), orthopedist (who was a so-called hip specialist but couldn’t find anything wrong) chiropractor, and still had no idea what was wrong. Finally I went to another orthopedist, and he diagnosed the labral tear. So while modern medicine is based on science, it is still partly art. And these experts are still human. If you don’t answers, you have choices. Use them. And don’t give up until you get answers.

3) The mental part is harder than you think

Wow. Double wow! I consider myself a strong person, both physically and mentally, but there were some dark days during rehab. The loneliness. Having a tough time sleeping. The boredom. Your friends & family, who while all were very supportive had not idea how hard it is to come back from such a “minor” yet extensive surgery. I don’t blame them one bit. But boy, was the recovery hard!

4) You’ll feel lots of strange sensations

Popping. Clicking. Pain one minute then gone. Pain in one spot then a minute later in another. Most of which are normal. And all of them are new to you, and add to the anxiety of recovery. I cried more than once – not from the pain. But from the unknown. Several times I heard loud pops and thought for sure I blew out something else. But I didn’t. It all worked out. But between the pain medicine and recovery, I was constantly feeling something different.

5 Make sure you have lots of books & movies

When you go through the drudgery of work every day, it’s easy to think that you’d rather be sitting at home. But do this for weeks on end, and let me tell you, it get BORING!!! I became an expert on how to redesign a house from watching years worth of “Love It Or List It” episodes <link here>. Once I was able to walk around the neighborhood, I was ecstatic!

6) Find a really good PT

As of today, I’ve visited my physical therapist 54 times. Yes, that’s right, 54! I figure I’d be there 10-12 times and I could figure out the rest. Nope. While the surgery was a success, the damage and recovery only highlighted a lifetime of weaknesses and imbalances. So not only did my hips need work, but so did my back and core. And most importantly, I needed to get the whole “chain” back in synch! Not an easy task. So find a physical therapist you like, because you might just spend enough time with them to learn their life story, and share yours!

hip surgery rehab gear7) Don’t be too proud to accept help

I’ll always remember the first day I started walking around the neighborhood on crutches – a very exciting and empowering experience! Until the phone rang…and my 85 year old neighbor offered to let me borrow one of her walkers. “No way” I screamed out to my wife, “I’m absolutely NOT borrowing a walker!” Then I came to my senses. I called her back and accepted her offer. Best decision I made during rehab. The walker was so much more comfortable than crutches. And I almost let my pride get in the way of common sense (well, I’m sure my wife helped a little with that too!) That’s a picture of all my rehab gear on the right.

One final takeaway: Be prepared that the end result won’t be totally satisfying.

Going into the surgery, I NEVER even considered that I wouldn’t be back to 100% in 3-4 months. Now I realize I’ll never be back to 100%. The “new normal” I call it.

I just wish I was more prepared – mentally – for the possibility of a new normal. As I read recently on FitBottomedGirls “In order to reach your goals, see a change in your body and an improvement in your skills, you have to challenge yourself. Challenging yourself means doing better than you did before. “

So I hope this helps you if you ever have to consider surgery.

Do you have any other tips for those recovering from surgery, or injury, and how to handle the road to recovery?

 

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  • A fun new way to get into
    GREAT shape
  • NO equipment & NO gym needed
  • 30 fun & different exercises to do any time & any place!
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4 Comments on "7 Things I Wish I Knew BEFORE Having Arthroscopic Hip Surgery"

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uthman saheed

Anything surgery is a no no for me…Except if its to save life. All those body amendment surgery could be scarry.

Nele

Well said. I had each hip done, 7 months apart. The recoveries were good but slow and probably the hardest thing I ever have done in my life. I am now almost 2 years PO, still not back to normal but still grateful for the surgeries. No regrets.

Kelly
I found this while searching. I had this surgery on 10/21/16 and had extensive bone work due to impingement. Like you, I thought it was a minor surgery and was told 4 weeks on crutches, which sounded like no big deal. In reality, I had a brutal recovery. Despite round the clock icing and following orders perfectly, my swelling didn’t go down until 6-7 weeks, so my PT was massively set back. I didn’t drop both crutches until this week, I think I’m at 10 weeks post op now. So over double my initial assumption. It definitely made the mental… Read more »
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