Hip pain in young adults

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Hip/groin pain in young adults is not common and this can mean sufferers are misdiagnosed. This guest post has been written by Lisa. Not only has Lisa experienced hip pain and surgery she is also a physiotherapist and former colleague.

Lisa’s hip pain

“I was a 29 year old fit active female with intermittent severe right groin and outer hip pain. Having ridden horses and ponies at international competitive level it is inevitable that you pick up injuries and I put a lot of my symptoms down to ‘horses’ and ‘tried to get on with things’ and ignore it, and I did that for some time – 8 years in total!

By now I was having trouble washing and dressing properly – putting socks on my right foot was most entertaining! I woke every time I needed to turn over in bed, getting in and out of the car, getting up from sitting and walking were all becoming progressively more difficult. I knew my symptoms were a little unusual and I was too old for the common paediatric conditions and too young for other things like osteoarthritis. I tried low back pain treatment just to be sure the pain was not being referred from there – no effect. Perhaps I had early onset hip osteoarthritis and I needed to stretch the area and keep it strong? I gave it a go – no effect.

When a 5 minute walk turned into a painful 15 minute walk I was referred to an Orthopaedic hip surgeon. The surgeon immediately suspected a torn labrum. An MRI arthrogram was done. Dye is injected in to the joint to see if any leaks out through a tear – it did. The hip surgeon told me I had an underlying impingement which had become so severe it had torn the cartilage around the joint.

I was advised surgery was the only option at this stage, but that it was experimental and may not work (this was in 2007, its more commonly done 4 years later). I decided to go for it the pain was too much what other options did I have? After 3 hour open surgery I spent 2 days on bed rest and progressively was allowed to get up out of bed and walk with crutches without putting any weight on my right leg for 6 weeks. My only concern was I was getting married in 7 weeks!! Was I going to make it down the aisle without a crutch?

Post hip surgery

Since surgery I have made a 90% recovery. I now have 2 children, can walk well, turn over in bed and ride horses- I would call the surgery a success. Most surgery for labral tears and impingement’s is now done arthroscopically so there is a much small scar than the one I have.

It is only through what happened to me that I have been able to feed back to other clinicians the signs and symptoms and testing for hip impingement and labral tears. Labral tears can be caused by trauma or from impingements. As a physio I now look at a younger patient with hip pain and think “well it could be…”

I have since identified other young adults with either an impingement or labral tear. They all had surgery and all have made good recoveries. Although it was a very difficult and painful time for me, without this experience I wonder if would have been able to help those patients. It has certainly helped me teach other clinician’s to recognise the symptoms so they can give the best possible care to their patients.

Sometimes every cloud really does have a silver lining!

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