Patient Stories


Hey everyone! My name is Hannah and I am 17 years old. I am currently a patient at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. My journey with hip dysplasia began seven years ago when I was going into 5th grade. It was summertime. I was involved in competitive dance, and I also played golf several days a week with my family. On this particular day, I had been to golf camp that morning and then went to speed and agility training that evening. I remember sitting at my kitchen table that night and my mom asked me to take the dog out, so I stood up to walk outside but immediately started screaming. I had a sharp, shooting pain down the side of my left leg. We went to Urgent Care and I was told that I had a sprained hip. By the end of that summer, I was still struggling with a lot of pain. We went to the doctor and I was diagnosed with bursitis and snapping hip. I did about a month of PT and still was not improving. We went to see a chiropractor that we were referred to by a friend. He was also a physical therapist, so he worked with me a lot on strengthening my hip to see if I could get better. No improvement. I continued to get worse and eventually could not walk, so crutches it was. The chiropractor was examining my hip and said that he could feel a torn muscle in my left hip and that we needed to go see a different orthopedist, so we did. The orthopedist sent me to a different physical therapist, but I still could not walk. We then went to yet another orthopedist. He ordered an MRI and found that I did have a torn muscle, evidence of a fracture, and I was also missing a muscle in my left hip. So more physical therapy. After two months of PT and four months on crutches, I was able to walk again! I got stronger and really was not struggling with my hip at all anymore! In 6th grade, I went back to dancing, but after a few months, my hip started bothering me again. I decided to stop dancing, and that was very helpful. The pain went away and I was able to do most ‘kid’ things.

In 7th grade, I decided to try something new and play lacrosse. I fell in love with lacrosse. My first season went so smoothly. No hip problems at all. Spring season came around and I started struggling with sharp pain and clicking/popping in the same hip. Ugh. I was very frustrated that the pain had come back, but I pushed through and finished the season.

I took the summer to rest, but the issues only worsened. We went to see a different doctor and they recommended that we try another round of physical therapy, so that is what we did. I loved my physical therapist and really trusted her. After several weeks, she talked to the doctor and they agreed that an MRI would be helpful. The MRI showed fraying in my labrum, but the surgeon was not comfortable operating. We tried several different injections into my hip to relieve the pain, but nothing really fixed the problem.
In December of my 8th grade year, my physical therapist referred us to a hip specialist in Atlanta to get a second opinion. After an exam and one X-Ray, he diagnosed me with bilateral hip dysplasia and FAI (femoral acetabular impingement). He also ordered an MRI that confirmed a full tear in my labrum. In February 2017, I had a hip arthroscopy to repair my labrum and correct my FAI. The surgery was a success, but about eight months later, it was decided that I would need the PAO on my left hip for my hip dysplasia. In February 2018, I had my LPAO, and it was successful! I felt SO GOOD that summer, almost like a new person. During my sophomore year, I decided to try something new and tryout for my school’s swim team. I loved swim so much. During swim, I struggled a little bit with my hip, and I even had my screws (from the PAO) removed in the middle of swim season and took three weeks off, but I came back to finish the season!

During the summer going into my junior, I was still struggling with some pain, and I started walking very weirdly. My left leg would swing out to the side every time I took a step. This lasted several months but improved after several weeks of wearing a brace I had from my arthroscopy. I went back to see my surgeon and he decided to order a fresh MRI to see what was going on. The MRI showed some damage to my labrum and that I also had a lot of scar tissue and adhesions in my hip. He did a steroid injection, and it worked so he knew that a repeat hip arthroscopy would probably be best. In February 2020, I had surgery to repair my labrum, scrape out adhesions, and shave off a little bit of an impingement on my femur. The surgery was very successful, and my doctor was very pleased with how it went. He was confident that this was my last surgery! My recovery went smoothly, and I was improving slowly, but surely! At the beginning of May, I suddenly lost all feeling and ability to move in my left leg and my foot was blue and cold. I was taken to the E.R. and admitted to the hospital. After having brain, spine, and hip MRIs, and being examined by orthopedic specialists and a neurologist, I was sent home. I was told that this was something called Conversion Disorder, which can happen after a trauma, such as surgery. It took about three weeks for my leg to fully wake up, but I am doing very well now!! I am actually running a little bit and I don’t have too much pain! My surgeon and my physical therapist are very happy with how I am healing and everyone is very confident that I now have a healthy hip!

I truly wouldn’t trade this experience for the world. I have learned so much about myself and about other people. I have become stronger than I thought I could be. I have also figured out that I want my future career to be involved in medicine so that I can help other people through their experiences. Though this journey hasn’t been easy, I truly would not be who I am without it. I am also BEYOND THANKFUL for the doctors, nurses, and my physical therapists that have taken care of me throughout all of this. They are truly the best!

My message to anyone that is struggling with hip issues and has received a diagnosis or has not yet received a diagnosis is PLEASE do not give up!! I know how difficult it is to not know what is wrong with you and to feel like you won’t find a way to feel better. I know that these hip issues can cause so much stress. And I know how badly we all want to just be able to do what we want without worrying! Don’t give up.

And to the people who have had hip surgery, you are so strong. It is not easy. Now it’s our turn to help those who are experiencing this after us.