One morning last July , I stepped out of bed and felt a sharp pain in my hip. I figured it would go away, but it only got worse throughout the day. I tried to run through the pain thinking it would loosen up, but it just wouldn’t budge.
The pain was deep and it just didn’t feel like a pulled muscle or strain. I then thought stress fracture since the pain came on so suddenly. I eased up on the running, saw a chiropractor and got some temporary relief, and then finally weeks later saw an MD where an x-ray showed a very obvious cam lesion. My doctor almost seemed excited when he told me I had what was probably Femoral Acetabular Impingement Syndrome – FAI for short. I got an MRI that verified that fact and also showed a small labral tear. Doc prescribed rest, then a cortisone shot, and when that didn’t work some physical therapy.
After googling the heck out of FAI, I was confused, frustrated, and frightened. Pretty much cortisone was just masking the pain and no amount of physical therapy was going to change the shape of my joint. I did what I was told by doc #1 and when that didn’t work I saw both of the 2 surgeons in Utah that did arthroscopic FAI correction. I decided to go with the more experienced doc and had a mini meltdown when he was booking surgeries 3 months out. They told me that no one ever cancels and the cancellation list was a mile long, but then called me 2 days later with a surgery time in 3 weeks.
I had many doubts about the surgery especially after seeing the following article published in the New York Times just weeks before my surgery: Hip Procedure Grows Popular Despite Doubt. The diagnosis seemed too trendy and I was concerned about the lack of long term data on the procedure. I was seriously considering bailing 5 days before the surgery. Heck I was still running on it and the hip didn’t feel that awful although everything else was killing me like my knee, hamstring, and IT-band from compensating.
What it basically came down to was that I wasn’t willing to change my lifestyle. I figured without the surgery I was going to need a hip replacement early in life so worst case scenario was that with the surgery I was going to need a hip replacement early in life. The actual mechanics of impingement made sense to me and since I have always been horribly inflexible on my left side and this pain wasn’t going away – I went for it.
I had surgery on December 9, 2011 and got the full gamut including a femoroplasty, acetabuloplasty, labral repair, capsular repair, and iliopsoas tendon release. I was pretty much stuck in bed the first week. I went back to work after 10 days and was driving (a manual transmission) at 4 weeks. I was off crutches at 5 ½ weeks and walking normally and feeling good at 6 weeks. The first 2 weeks pretty much sucked, but after that I saw progress everyday so that certainly helped with the motivation.
At this point I don’t really care if it was the surgery or the rest or the amazing physical therapy I am getting, all I care about is the fact that my post-op pain is gone and I am getting strong and feeling hopeful. At 6 weeks I already have normal range of motion and I feel good on the bike and am now easing into the elliptical trainer. Just hope I am still feeling this hopeful in early March when I get to start running again.
If you have any questions about my FAI surgery experience, leave them in the comments and I will be sure to answer!
[Update January 2014: I completely recovered from this FAI surgery so I consider it a complete success although I did need a capsular repair a year later. I then underwent FAI surgery on the other side in November 2013 and am currently documenting my FAI surgery recovery here.