I first began experiencing hip pain when I was 17 years old and a junior in high school. I was trying out for my varsity soccer team when I felt that I had pulled my hip flexor. I took a few days off from practice to wait for it to heal, but unfortunately it never got better. I would wait a few days then try to run, and the same pain would always return, quickly becoming sharper and deeper into the joint. I saw a doctor in NYC, and he diagnosed me with a labrum tear in my right hip. I had my first hip arthroscopy done in the winter of 2008.

When I went back for my 6 month check up and complained to the surgeon that I still had the exact same pain as before the surgery, he looked at me like I had four heads. He told me it was impossible and sent me away. I don’t think I did any real activity for two years after that, but slowly broke into swimming, which seemed to make my muscles stronger. Eventually I did get back into running (approx 3 miles, 5 times a week) but that took about 3 years post-surgery.

After college graduation in 2012 I got into crossfit, and within a year of starting that, my hip pain came back in both hips. I went back to the same surgeon (stupid me) and he did more MRIs and told me there were still labrum tears in my left and right hips. He said that the surgery I had in 2008 was now more advanced, and they were more aggressive with shaving down the head of the femur so it did not tear at the cartilage in the hip. I had another arthroscopy on my left and right hips in 2015.

The pain stayed the same, originally only occurred when I was active (I limited my activities significantly) and day-to-day was manageable. But over the following months pain kept getting worse and became more day to day. Now I cannot walk around the block with my mom or go on hikes with my boyfriend. And I am a person who LOVES to be active, running or biking or weight lifting are all out of the question.
I met with a new doctor a few months ago (approx September of 2016) to look again at my labrums. He took a good look at my hip and mentioned that the joints appeared to be anteriorly rotated (basically, they were pushing forward out of the socket) so that the socket was not fully covering the femur. He referred me to a specialist who is supposed to be the best. The new doctor diagnosed me with mild hip dysplasia (you wouldn’t see it on a regular xray) and recommended me to have a PAO so that the femur is correctly seated and protected by the joint. He says my illiopsoas and hip flexor pains happen because they are essentially taking over the role of the hip socket and “holding” my hip joint in place. It seems like a believable explanation for my horrible tendon and muscle pain in the front of my hip and in my groin.
I’m now scheduled to get this PAO surgery on my right hip on August 8th. I need to wait a few months due to work obligations and needing time to pray about such a serious surgery. I have seen way too many horror stories on the internet of people who got worse from this surgery, and cannot function day-to-day without horrible pain. My pain is bad, but the devil you do know is better than the devil you don’t! Hoping that someone might have had a similar experience as me and might have some advice. Thank you!

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  1. Lucy says:

    Hi Cara,

    I have just read your story it sounds very similar to mine, though I didn’t start having problems until age 39.
    I have mild/moderate bi lateral dysplasia with the left joint coming out of the socket forwards, I’ve had two years of physio and steroid injections, all the while the pain has got worse I gave up work two months ago my job being physically demanding, I can walk for about 20 minutes at a time, I get groin pain and muscle weakness, I’m an active person so this has been an awful time, and I have felt on my journey with this that most of the health professionals I have seen just misunderstand whats wrong with me, with the exception of one who has offered me a PAO but referred me to a Hip Replacement surgeon also and I have been given a choice between the two surgeries, I have gone with replacements because one of the angles in my left hip is normal and because of this it could cause an impingement they just don’t know, I will be having this done in the summer like you.
    Its all very scary, I’ve never had surgery I don’t want surgery but you can’t fix a structural problem without it, I was rather hoping I could just put up with the pain, but its got worse, sometimes I can’t sit down and I’m now on quite strong meds.
    Try not to be too influenced by horror stories there are way more positive stories than bad ones, here’s hoping by the end of the year we are both up and running!

    Wishing you Good Luck,


  2. Cara M says:

    Lucy, thanks so much for responding to my story! I have never met anyone with similar hip pain, let alone for the same reason. I am glad to know I am not the only one who has pain because the joint is coming forwards out of the socket. Same as you, I had hoped I could deal with the pain- now I have pushed my surgery up to next month and sitting is the worst! The point you’ve made regarding one of the angles of your hip being normal is a very good one, I am going to ask about that in my next appointment. I hope everything works out for you, and praying that we are both up and running with no more problems very soon!

  3. Lucy says:

    Cara I don’t know anyone personally with dysplasia so its even less likely I’d chance across anyone with the forward joint problem too! I know that my dysplasia was caused by my position in the womb, my mum told me I had a foot stuck under her ribs for months, the docs diagnosed mild hip dysplasia at birth but said it wouldn’t cause me problems how wrong they were! The weight bearing angle with me is normal so it would mean if I had a PAO the bone wouldn’t cup the socket it would stick out, it may or may not be an issue, if it was they would shave the bone, my surgeon spoke to a lot of his colleagues about my case because initially he told me he would not do it, but after testing my range of motion he said he could because my hips are hyper mobile, however he could not guarantee me being pain free only reduced which is why I’ve opted for replacements, what I would say though is yes definitely do ask about the angles of your hips, I don’t think its a feature of having a forward joint problem, however I don’t know, so by giving you my history it may be helpful to you. I really hope that your case is more straight forward than mine, and your surgery goes smoothly. I’m on the waiting list with the NHS in England, I’m grateful for the super health service we have here, I would have the surgery tomorrow if I could I haven’t sat down properly for ages, I lie on my side on the sofa, its agonising so I’m just kind of hanging on in there, I never thought I would look forward to surgery but as nervous as I am I can’t wait for the relief it will bring. Please do let us know how you are doing, take care, Lucy.

  4. Angie Nelson says:

    Lucy, and Clara,

    When is your surgery? I was also born breach, with my feet behind my ears. I enjoyed an inactive life with very flexible hips. At 28 I decided to start running. No formal training. At 31 my iliopsoas spasmed and locked. My knee was stuck to my chest for 3 or 4 days (not sure, I had been injected and given valume to relax my hip). Long story short, I’m now 36, and had my first hip x-ray to show:
    Shallow hip joints (to explain the popping and pain), my right hip shows torn labrum, and my left (the hip that iliaopsoas locked) has tendentious of the iliaopsoas. Now I have PT, avoiding shots and surgery.
    I’m doing Pilates in my PT, and just integrated mat Pilates to my excersice regime. Today, my right hip hurts so much, but also something I can handle.
    Im afraid of further intrusion in my body. I want to have my PT and Pilates help. But I worry about further damage to my hip. I think sharing stories helps.

  5. Cara M says:

    Angie- my surgery is May 23rd. It sounds like your hip remained “dormant” up until you started being active- it sounds incredibly painful to have your knee stuck to your chest! Ouch!
    In my case I had no symptoms up until I was 17…I was always active, and I wasn’t born breach so I’m not sure what caused the dysplasia. I’ve had several surgeries but my pain keeps getting worse (nothing like yours where your knee was stuck to your chest!) but I’m kind of to the point where I know this structural problem won’t heal itself. I’ve tried everything non-surgical: PT, yoga, tendon release therapy, stim, chiroractor, etc. At this point it’s either I survive with it (day to day chronic pain) or turn to surgery try to make it better. Hopefully the PAO will make the pain at least more bareable. If it doesn’t work out, I figure I can at get a hip replacement, but I can’t live in this constant pain.
    I think if your PT and pilates are causing you pain, it would probably be best to avoid them (but I am not a doctor). Have you tried swimming? It may make your muscles stronger- it helped me back in college. If that doesn’t help it, surgery seems to be the only thing that will fix a structural issue. But you do need to feel 100% comfortable with the decision. I will definitely keep you updated on how my surgery goes!

  6. Laurie says:

    Hello Ladies,
    I have to admit I stumbled on this and thought I would share my wishes for success of your treatments/surgeries. I had a total hip replacement on April 1, 2016 and from the first day noticed a major difference in pain level. I told the doctor the second week if he told me to do the other one right then I wouldn’t hesitate. It has been life changing for me. Mine was not diagnosed until I was 50 years old although it was also due to the way my hips formed in utero. Additionally my right leg was almost 2 inches shorter than my left. I have been very active & clumsy with my hips feeling like they were slipping out of socket. Sometimes it was so bad I would end up on the ground. My doctor thought it was just a middle aged woman complaining and sent me to physical therapy. This went on off and on for over three years. When I finally told him the pain wakes me up from my sleep and my physical therapist wanted to see the x-rays but I told him I didn’t have any, he finally did them. And immediately sent me to an orthopedic surgeon. My surgeon was an angel and explained things so carefully to me. Measured the angles, lengths, everything. When he replaced my right hip he lengthened my leg slightly & when he does the left he will shorten it a bit. He said he can’t totally correct it because I have a lifetime of compensating for the difference. Anyway…this is a long story to tell you to pray for comfort in having the surgery. I was really scared but the recovery was not nearly as bad as I feared and the hip pain I had lived with non-stop for years was gone from the moment I woke up. There was some discomfort from the incision but it was nothing like what I had lived with daily. I wish you much success and a long, happy, active life!

  7. Lucy says:

    Hi Angie, That sounds terrible having your knee stuck to your chest it must have been so painful. I completely understand why you don’t want shots and surgery, I also think every single person who has this condition has to make a choice based on their own circumstances, its a question of quality of life and pain management each case is unique.
    I had steroid injections over the course of a year alongside physio, the first steroid worked and for 3 months I was pain free, at the time I thought I had been cured and I was so happy! I had no idea that it was temporary at the time. Its been two years since the first symptoms appeared and its become unmanageable for me, also I am taking very strong painkillers which I don’t want to be on long term, sometimes I go to bed without taking them only to get up half an hour later to take them because its too painful to sleep, part of me is still in denial about what is happening to me its ridiculous I know! I think you are right sharing stories is really helpful, we are all unique so do what is right for you, take care Lucy.

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