Two weeks ago, I had hip labral tear repair surgery. What is a hip labral tear? Great question! 😄
A hip labral tear is a tear in the hip labrum. In simple terms, the labrum is the gel like soft tissue around the socket of the ball and socket joint of the hip. Sometimes this soft tissue gets torn and needs surgical stitching to repair. To repair a torn hip labrum, anchors (screws) are surgically drilled down into the bone, then the attached stitching is looped around the labrum to repair the tear and attach the labrum back down to the bone. Often, this repair can be accomplished through hip arthroscopy.
As I began navigating through my injury, surgery, and recovery, in between doctor’s appointments I had a slew of questions and not a lot of applicable answers. I discovered that, though there is much online medical information concerning symptoms, treatments, and after surgery care, there are not many real patient stories. Because my symptoms and experiences don’t exactly mirror medical information, and I’m finding that hip labral tear recovery is not an easy thing, I decided to journal my experiences here, hoping my journey will help another along their way. ☺️
Journal Entry 1
For the past year, I’d been having considerable pain in my right hip. Sometimes my back hurt. Most of the time the area around the SI joint (sacroiliac joint, which links the pelvis and lower spine) hurt. The pain radiated to the front of my hip and often into the groin area. Like a tight band of pain, it went across the front of my hip and top of my leg and shot down the front of my thigh. The pain lessened after resting for a day and increased with activity.
Now, I love being outside, communing with God, walking/hiking 3-5 miles per day. The last year I've been unable to do so, as deep hip pain resulted. A few days of busy activity would often render me tearful, in pain and frustration. It felt like a migraine in my hip. I had to cancel plans often and just rest, which maddeningly helped to add more than ten pounds, which is a lot on my 5”2 frame. Grrrr.
The last 6 months the pain, stiffness, and pins and needles worsened, blowing right through my pain tolerance. I saw my orthopedic doctor and had a steroid injection into the hip joint, which should have lasted six months. After four to five days, the pain lessened but returned after only 2 weeks. Physical therapy made no improvement either. I have an ongoing SI joint issue and figured my pain was due to that.
My doctor requested an MRI, which confirmed a considerable tear in the hip labrum, with a cyst at the tear opening, as well as other minor issues. I don’t remember experiencing a specific injury to my hip. More like an increasing pain and stiffness over time.
Surgery or No Surgery?
My doctor believed this tear would require surgery and referred me to an orthopedic surgeon. I scheduled a visit. After studying the MRI report and examining my hip, the surgeon confirmed the labral tear, and we discussed options. He described the long and often difficult recovery after labral tear surgery, being on crutches and in a hip brace four to six weeks, with months of physical therapy. He said it might take up to a year for full recovery. Yikes! He encouraged me to consider the option of injections and physical therapy without surgery. He explained this would not heal the tear, but would strengthen other muscles, etc, to compensate for the tear, and the injections would help keep the pain minimal. I explained that I’d already had an injection, which gave minimal relief and lasted only two weeks.
Upon his suggestion, I opted for an in-office pain test that day – an injection of temporary pain med directly into the hip joint to see how I responded. If the injection greatly lessened my pain, then surgery was indicated to be successful. If my pain was not considerably lessened, then surgery would probably not lessen the pain either. This injection would last 8-12 hours.
The PA gave me a local anesthetic and administered this pain test right there in the patient room. He used a mini ultrasound to correctly inject the solution directly into my hip joint. His voice became excited as he watched the solution flow “beautifully” around the joint. This was fun for me to experience. Go Dicky Smith!
I felt no discomfort and the procedure was over quickly. Almost immediately, my pain was drastically reduced. I went home and walked 3 miles with almost no pain. However, the next day, as the pain test injection wore off, I was in agony. I spoke with the surgeon, and we collectively agreed to do surgery. The pain had become intolerable, placing my life and ministry on hold, which was unacceptable for me. I would have to weather the arduous recovery.
Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you; I will help you;
I will hold on to you with my righteous right hand.
Stay tuned for Journal Entry 2
Love and blessings,