April’s Story

Wow! A site to inform others about hip dysplasia! And a place where they don’t ask, “like the dog?”!

My mother was born with hip dysplasia in 1939. In the 40s she spent 8 years on crutches due to her condition. It didn’t help. She grew up and as an adult suffered tremendous pain from the short leg and the deformed hip. Why she didn’t receive the help she needed, I don’t know. I wish she had. Especially after it was discovered that I, too, was born with it. Doctors missed the condition in me. When my mother had it, it was thought by her doctor (and maybe others as well) that the condition was prominent in boys, not girls. We now know that it is girls that tend to develop this condition. Anyway, I always walked “pigeon-toed” and my mother and grandmothers always swore I walked that way to get “new” shoes. As a teenager, my knee began to sublex and I began the first of many years of painful sublexes. I was petrified of needles, so when the fluid would gather after my knee would sublex, I rubbed the fluid out away from the knee to avoid it being drained. Eventually, my pain tolerance grew very high and I could literally walk through a sublex and keep going. I also had a short leg and my body compensated for my hip in many ways although I remained ignorant of my condition.

Things began to unravel when I was about 28. I was on travel at a training session for my job when my back muscles seized up and I couldn’t move. I was in immense pain for several days before I finally made it to a chiropractor who took x-rays and discovered a few things about me. She discovered the hip dysplasia (it didn’t really register at the time because my hip didn’t hurt and I didn’t fully understand), my spine was too straight and I had a lot of arthritis in my lower back from an injury I received as a teenager. And she noted my short leg. A lift in my shoe, several adjustments and treatments later, I was on my way again. Or so I thought.

One May I blew out my knee rounding second base in a softball game. The knee went out and it was a terrible one this time. I couldn’t walk this one off, not when the knee would sublex with just the slightest touch of my toe to the ground. No sir, I wasn’t getting out of this one. Not too long after this incident, a friend of mine referred me to the doctor who would become a savior to me.

My first visit was a memorable one. Dr P sent in a college intern to speak with me. He would learn really fast that I was a patient that he could use to enlighten and educate his interns who were becoming lax in their patient care and too confident in their suggestions for treatments. The intern suggested physical therapy to strengthen the muscle and I raised my hand to stop him. I said, please don’t waste my time by suggesting physical therapy. It won’t work. And as I said this, I picked up my kneecap and rolled it around and said, “Does this look like a problem that will be fixed by physical therapy? If that is all you are going to suggest, I might as well go home.”

The doctor came in at that moment and said, “She’s right.” And he held up the x-rays he had taken. I was scheduled for knee surgery. Because of the “way I was made” he would have to cut the muscle, tighten it and reattach it a little farther over so that it would keep my kneecap in place. He saw that the hip dysplasia was the cause and he was doing what he could to try and fix that. That first surgery was the first of 3 knee surgeries. The hip and short leg also took its toll on my back. I eventually had to have an IDET (Intra-discal Electro-Thermal) procedure. Then, in 2005, my right hip started to hurt me. First, it was an occasional stabbing pain. Then it started to collapse under me. I sucked up the pain because I was still fairly young. Too young, really for a hip replacement. I was in my late 30s by then. In 2008 I had a labral tear in my right hip. The doctor couldn’t fix the tear due to my condition so he cleaned it up the best he could to buy me some time.

In December 2009 I lost my fight against this condition when I was passed in the mall by a little ole lady with a walker and humpback. I burst into tears. I had lost all sense of self confidence. I constantly walked with a limp due to the pain and I had all but had to stop exercising because it hurt so badly to walk. It hurt to do anything. I wasn’t sleeping. I wasn’t doing much of anything. I had been doing Weightwatchers for years and had met my goal and became a lifetime member….until 2008 when the pain became so bad the weight started creeping on.

I finally was given my total hip replacement in February 2009. On my brother’s birthday. His birthday, my present! I knew that the moment I woke up, that the doctor had completed the surgery because I felt AMAZING! i felt like I was lying on a pop bottle but it was much better than the pain I had been feeling! I was thrilled! I had a new hip! The “cadillac” of titanium hips my doctor said. I felt elated and was walking on clouds!

Since the surgery, I have enjoyed all my activities pain free. My leg is now the same length as the other one and I love every minute of life with this new hip. I do have some pain in my left hip because it did so much work in compensating for my right hip, but it’s minimal and I treat it with care and do exercises with it to help it heal. And of course I have residual pain and occasional flare ups in my back due to the conditions that started before my hip was replaced but the best part is my hip dysplasia is gone and my hip feels great!

I want to do what I can to support those that have this condition or have a loved one that has this condition. There is just not enough awareness out there and we need more. It’s not just dogs that get this condition. A lot of people have this condition and don’t know it. I need to do something to help others and encourage those that need encouragement and support. I hope my story helps someone. Anyone.

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16 Notes

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  1. Deborah Harnke says:

    You have been through so much! I am so glad that you finally received the right treatment. My son was born with bilateral hip dysplasia. It’s been been a long 2 years, but I am thankful that we also found the right doctor. Glad you’re finally feeling well!

  2. helen scott says:

    April,you mentioned your knee problems and it registered with me.I have dysplasia and can remember my knee would swell when I was in my teens and the gp said I had housemaids knee and would drain it.wonder if this was also a clue to what would happen in the future

  3. Gioconda Covelli says:

    Thank you so much for this story. I am 42 and it was till a couple of weeks ago that I was told that I have bilateral hip dysplasia. My story is very similar to yours in which for years I was told that I was too young for hip replacement surgery, that I only had osteoarthritis. I too have lost all sense of self confidence. I constantly walked with a limp due to the pain, I stopped exercising. It hurts to do anything. I don’t sleep and I’ve gained a lot of weight in the past couple of years.

    I will be undergoing 1 of two full hip replacement surgeries next month. You have given me hope. Thank you!

  4. Emma Turner says:

    I have just read the stories. I was born with hip dysplasia. I am now 36yrs old and facing a hip replacement. I was not picked up until I was 18mths old, so walking as a 18mth would. I would drag my left legs around, but the drs would not do any thing. It took my parents to jump and down to get something done. After 4 ops and physo I was able to walk, play sport and enjoy life. I loved my hockey which I played for 9 years. In 2007 I began to feel a little pain so I had it check out. My otho suggest I have a hip scope as there was a lot of build up and the hip was moving out. I had the op and life seem to be getting better, but not for long. I went on living with pain, got married and had two wonderful boys. Just this year I have gone back to my Otho and the news was not good. I could see on the x-ray the hip was out. In Dec I will have a new hip, cant wait.

  5. Julie Theander says:

    I have been in extreme pain for a year now. About 6 weeks ago, I was finally diagnosed with hip dysplasia. No one ever thought of taking hip x-rays until then. When the doctor took a look, the first words out of his mouth was “oh wow!” He then sent me to a specialist and next month I will have a total hip replacement. I will have to have the other done soon after. In my latter 30’s I had knee problems which resulted in knee surgery. This last year, the pain began in the groin. I stopped walking my 4 miles, 3 times per week. I couldn’t even walk a block without intense pain. I then had 2 bulging discs in my back where they shot me with steroids. -all of these prior problems were because of my hips. Now, I can’t sit, walk, stand or sleep without hurting. I’m frustrated by how long it took the doctors to figure this thing out and I can’t wait for my surgery. Oh, and I’m just 52 years old.

  6. eileen says:

    i am so thankful for your sharing your story.
    I’m 50, i had knee surgery at 15, they took out a ligament. Was very active and athletic, loved to run; dance became my drug of choice during college and at 33 eventually was advised to give it up (as a potential career) due to the OTHER knee having ligament damage.
    Of course, i haven’t mentioned that i most likely had my first herniated disk at 24… i came up in a family where the doctor was the LAST resort, not the first. though i left at 17, it took a long time to unlearn that habit. several more periods of pain were related to various areas of my spine… (trauma to my body as a child due to parents with tempers… adds up.)

    didn’t know that i’d had a minor scoliosis since birth, and though the combination of all of the above would seem to be the cause of my hip pain (i have never injured the hips, ever, though i’ve always been extra flexible)… as i’ve been researching, the dysplasia scenario seems to be an accurate description of my quick slide into pain… it started almost 4 yrs ago but the last 6 months have just been horrendous. and very discouraging.
    thank you for telling your story, now i have info to bring with me to an ortho doc… my general practitioner had sent me to physical therapy, but i’ve been in too much pain to even want to attempt the stretch and strengthen exercises she recommended.

  7. Michele says:

    I was diagnosed last January with bilateral hip dysplasia. This news was not shocking as I watched my mother struggle with the same condition. Mom had both total hip replacements b4 the age of 50. I am 44 and my family Dr suggested an orthopedic surgeon visit. The surgeon said I can have the surgery anytime I was ready. Trouble is…..how much more pain should I endure b4 getting the surgery? I switched from Mobic to Naproxen and don’t feel much relief. I work full time on my feet and some days feel like Its just unbearable. I would like to lose 60 lbs b4 surgery so that the “new” hip will hopefully last longer. Does anyone know if there’s a better medication for the pain management ?? Thank you for any info.

  8. Tonisha says:

    I was switched recently to Norco – Hydrocodone/Acetamenaphine (5/325mg.) I have surgery in three weeks and it has been more effective than the Ibuprofen 800 and Tramadol I have been taking for the past 2.6 years. Every case is different as everyone is different. I hope you find the relief you seek.

  9. james says:

    I was only told i has hip dysplasia in the summer of 2013. I told the surgery that i had a problem with my hip for over 10 years. The Nice chap said, My friend you have dysplasia !. As a kids i walked on my toes untill i was about 6 or 7. I remember the trips to the doctors. hated them. I have walked with a pain free limp untill i was 30 then one day BANG ! my hip popped out just while i was serving a customer. How i did’nt swear i dont know. For the last 11 years i have tryed to keep a full time and also be active with my wife and sons. But now the pain is getting silly. I am on pain killers every work day. I can walk a short distance but then it starts to be painfull. I have used a walking stick for longer walks. i still need to sit down after a while. 5 mins rest and the hips ok for a short time. Then im sitting down again. The hospital have said i can have a replacement if i want. But im a big guy. 18 stone 6 foot 6. and 41 years old. my doctor said i should go for it. But im worryed if i have the op that i am too young and big. Also, in my job i am always lifting heavy items and i can quit. As like everyone i have bills to pay. I really dont know what to do. I would love to see what anyone else would do if they where me ?
    kind Regards

  10. Linda says:

    April thank you for your story. The one theme that rings true as I read multiple stories, is that many go undiagnosed for years. A SIMPLE XRAY! Why they don’t train young residents in orthopedics for this scenario, back pain, knee pain, etc. then bam hip pain. No sense in going back in time for me. I can only move forward. Disciplined in my daily exercise and routine keeps me mobile. I too am a lifer on WW. The weight management is very difficult. Thank you for sharing!

  11. Denise says:

    We are a group of volunteers and opening a new scheme in
    our community. Your website provided us with
    valuable info to work on. You have done an impressive job and our entire community will be
    thankful to you.

  12. Michele says:


    Thank you for your advice- I hope surgery went well and you’re recovery is short

  13. Camilla Marker says:

    Thank you for your story and hope your recovery goes well. I have been suffering with my knee on and off for 4 years now and the past two months have been unbearable. I have been on all types of medication that has done nothing and had an MRI and blood tests done and now tomorrow am seeing my specialist to find out if I need a new hip.
    I was born with dysplasia in my left hip and the Dr didn’t do the usual checks to see if I had proper mobility in my hips so it was only when I tried to walk that my mom noticed something wrong. After many ops the specialists built me a new hip. That was 17 years ago. Not a bad run but I’m still a bit shocked that at my age I’m looking at another hip. Im 33 years old.
    I agree people should be made aware of this condition as I too get compared to dogs. Dogs suffer too but they don’t get given the run around to get a new hip.
    Hopefully this time tomorrow I’ll have an answer to my pain and will be waiting for a new hip.

  14. Debra TT says:

    After a lifetime of joint issues and pain, two days ago I was diagnosed with hip dysplasia and am in need of bilateral hip replacement it is so bad. And had lumbar fusion just one year ago so am not so eager to have another surgery (or tow) so soon. Thanks for sharing your stories. I am still in shock that I have this but the pieces do fit together very well. Late walker, could never run very well. knee and pelvis issues forever and was told I had “atypical arthritis” with hypermobility. Knees have swollen a total of seven times and got lots of steroid shots but no one ever looked beyond the knees. I fell down the stairs 5 years ago and have had agonizing pain since and lots of procedures but never any real in depth look at my hips until this week. I really wish someone had looked at whole person and not just a little piece of me for so long.

  15. Rocky says:

    I have suffered for 17 years.Over that time I got much worse.Finally after many many doctors.I have found the answer!!Deformed hips.I knew this as a small boy.But did not have severe pain till 40 yrs old.The doctors told me it was my back.But I knew better.This is not my back!! I would say.I did go to ortho Doctors and many types of doctors over the 17 years.Now I have finally found the answer!!! And it makes the most sense.If I would have listened to all these doctors. WOW I would have had many things done.That would not help.I am glad I listened to myself.Next hip replacement in both hips.I have shooting and radiating pain down my legs.That got worse and worse over the 17 years.But now it all makes perfect sense.

  16. Katie Sabo says:

    I’ve been suffering lower back pain, herniated disk, and pelvic pain for 10 years …it started in the year after I gave birth to my second daughter …I’ve been to countless doctors and tried everything and on a random maybe I have a hernia i went to see two different general surgeons …first one sent me to a colorectal surgeon as i had fourth degree tears after the birth …second doctor said maybe it’s your hip.
    It was my hip. Labral tear and then hip dysplasia and my psoas was lengthened and so much of my pain has disappeared and this is just three months after the arthroscope . I still have arthritis in my si joints and neck so there might be other underlying rhematic issues but this has been a revelation …I always used to get groin pain when i ran as a youngster and the sciatic pain down to my feet was from my hip not my back …I sometimes get it on my right side too so am definitely going to consider hip repair on my right side if the arthogram shows the same problem. I don’t know how to get the word out about how back pain that doesn’t respond to regular treatment should always be suspected to be hip…I mean they’re connected by the psoas muscle I just don’t understand why it has taken modern medicine so long to figure this out! I also had to wear corrective shoes when I was a toddler and am now wondering if this is why !

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