Courtney

When I was a teen, through my twenties, and early thirties I was a runner. Always experiencing pain after a run in my right shoulder, I went to a sports Dr. (in high school) to find out my shoulder pain was caused by the difference in lengths of my legs. Now I know that to be a characteristic of hip dysplasia.

Fast forward 15 years and I was 4 years into increasingly intense pain in my right “leg”.
I kept up my intense yoga schedule but had forgone running 2 years prior due to pain. Walking from my car to work was unbearable. I had to psych myself up to get the mental and physical courage to even walk to the bathroom. I hated the stares at my increasingly pronounced limp, the strangers coming up to me asking what was wrong … I just didn’t know !!!
Right when I couldn’t take it anymore, at age 33, I found out I was pregnant! For the first time! What a crazy turn of events. Given this new responsibility, I scheduled a long overdue MRI. It was that day that I was diagnosed with bilateral hip dysplasia. I would start with replacing the right hip, then the left, then in 15 years do it all again. It felt like a ton of bricks slammed me in the chest – how could this be real?
Pregnancy was excruciating, but there was an end in sight. Three months after my scheduled C-section I was going to have a total right hip replacement. I had ultrasound-guided cortisone shots injected into my pelvis every 3 months that kept me walking without a cane, crutches, or a wheelchair – that, and pride.

My daughter’s arrival into this world went wonderfully and my beautiful healthy baby was finally here. Now came the reality – I have to figure out a new body part, re-learn to walk, oh yeah and keep a tiny human alive – with my body!

Becoming a mother changed my hip dysplasia journey profoundly – I don’t know how I would’ve handled this without my baby, or if I would’ve even thought having a child was the right decision for my body. Although reading this story you may think that it was irresponsible to not seek proper treatment sooner, I believe there was something bigger at play and the diagnosis came exactly when it was meant to.

Before all this – running, swimming, surfing (sort of), hiking, yoga, teaching paddleboard yoga, and any physical activity were my identity – and now they were gone. Who was I without it? What made me happy? Would I ever be active again? Am I disabled? Is that my new identity…disabled? The thought plagued and embarrassed me.

That was one and a half years ago.

Today I just returned from surfing 5-foot waves on sunset cliffs in ocean beach – something that I watched from the sidelines for ten years. Eight months after surgery, I joined 8-week program called Ground Swell Community project that gave me back the skill and confidence I was seeking in the water (if you’re interested at all in surf therapy please check them out, they are amazing).
For my 35th birthday this July I went on an off-roading surf trip to Mexico where I had the courage and skill to surf off the grid spots. Nothing can describe how that felt, or feels every time my board touches the water. I saw myself in my mind teaching my daughter how to surf. I didn’t know how I was going to get there but things fell into place as they do.
When I tell you that my new hip gave me my life back – believe it. I am beyond grateful every day that I can do all these amazing things – but also that I can pick up my daughter without pain, walk her down to the farmers market, play hide and seek … all the things!

A lot of the time I have trouble wrapping my head around the surgeries and “things” that may come up in the future, especially as my now 35-year-old body begins to age.
If anyone reading this ever doubts their physical ability after this life-changing diagnosis – please don’t. You are capable of so much. So, so much.

If you’d like to keep in touch or share YOUR story please contact me on Instagram: Cali_surfin_mama




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  1. Judy Thayer says:

    This is so encouraging. My 19 year old daughter was diagnosed two years ago with hip dysplasia and we were told there was nothing they could do for but manage the pain with core strengthening and PT. She is a dancer continues to push through her pain – as I have put it…she loves to dance more than she hates the pain. Now in college and a dance minor, dance coach and member of her college dance team, the pain seems to be worsening. Doctors in our area have always told us that surgery could make things worse; that she is too young, etc. BUT…in my mind, she is too young, too active and too talented to be this debilitated by pain. Your story is telling me that we need to push further and see what other options exist for her. Thank you for sharing and giving us hope.

  2. Courtney says:

    Hi Judy,
    Wow, thank you so much for sharing. If it were my daughter, knowing what I know now I’d schedule the surgery. The pain is unimaginable and can change her developing personality and outlook on herself and life. The surgery when done correctly along with physical therapy is incredible and she should expect the best outcome, and to get fight to get back to doing what she loves – and never stop. Dr.’s discourage doing it young because there is a small chance of complications with any surgery – and the younger she is, the more she’ll have (that’s how it was explained to me). Wishing you and your daughter mental and physical strength through this journey. She’s got this.

  3. COURTNEY.DESIGN2424@GMAIL.COM says:

    Wow, thank you so much for sharing. If it were my daughter, knowing what I know now I’d schedule the surgery. The pain is unimaginable and can change her developing personality and outlook on herself and life. The surgery when done correctly along with physical therapy is incredible and she should expect the best outcome, and to get fight to get back to doing what she loves – and never stop. Dr.’s discourage doing it young because there is a small chance of complications with any surgery – and the younger she is, the more she’ll have (that’s how it was explained to me). Wishing you and your daughter mental and physical strength through this journey. She’s got this.

  4. Sophie says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I am complaining of hip intense pain for more than 10 years. I realisec4 years ago that my hips didn’t stay in there socket. I told my doctor and got an x-ray that showed nothing so it stayed like that even if I poped my hip in front of the doctor. After couples of years and not being able to walk in my own home because it is to painful. I realised that it has to exist a way to operate that. I researched over the internet and found not much. This site is the first time I find something other than total hip replacement. So happy. Thank you for sharing your story. You give me hope. By the way I am 45. It is time I get that fixed!

  5. COURTNEY.DESIGN2424@GMAIL.COM says:

    Hi Sophie,

    So sorry to hear that you’ve been in pain for so long. When I was unable to get a replacement because of pregnancy, cortisone shots helped me beyond compare. Maybe you can look into that as an option? Otherwise, I was so, so happy with my surgery. I’ve been hearing a lot of people put it off because they are “too young” – but at what cost? Quality of life and activity is so important. I had mine at 34 and couldn’t be happier with the outcome/decision. Good luck on your journey and please keep me posted!

  6. Amanda says:

    Thank you so much for sharing. I was a marathon runner and had hip and back pain for about 5 years (pre-running). Eveey time I went to the doctor they said it was probably from the running, so I would do PT and take a bunch of pills and it wouldn’t get better. For YEARS this went on. Finally last year I found out I had a torn labrum. I had an arthroscopy to repair the labrum, re-learned to walk, and then had HORRIBLE chronic hip and back pain. Worse than before surgery. Doc kept telling me it takes time to heal and to give it a year. It started really impacting my life, I became depressed and dependent on pain killers. I finally went and got a second opinion and found out I have hip dysplasia. I am scheduled for another surgery soon, and your post gives me hope. Thank you for sharing.

  7. COURTNEY.DESIGN2424@GMAIL.COM says:

    Hi Amanda,
    So sorry you had to go through ALL of that, wow. Happy to hear you’ve finally got the proper (although tough) diagnosis so you can get the treatment you need. Compared to what you’ve been through – the surgery will likely feel like a breeze!
    Best of luck with your recovery (keep up with the PT) – I have no doubt you’ll be in a marathon next year if that’s what you want to do! They’ll tell you it’s not advised, but I have my own opinion on that ;)

    Thank you for sharing your story, and please keep me updated :)

  8. James says:

    Hi,
    Thanks for your story. I am 46 yrs old. I am a professional martial arts instructor with bi-lateral hip Dysplasia and a torn left labrum. About two years ago I saw a specialist in St.Louis who wanted to do P.A.O. Surgery on my left hip. (Which I learned is about a 1yr recovery) After learning that I would still probably need a replacement after that surgery I decided to forgo it and just tough it out as long as I could with injections. I thinks that time is now. I can’t do martial arts anymore and that kills me. Not to mention it is my profession and way of life. My concern is finding the right doctor and how long will a hip replacement last in a high impact situation like martial arts. It seems like there is a very limited amount of information on the internet so any resources or opinions would be very helpful. Thanks again.

  9. Courtney Langan says:

    Hi James,
    So sorry to hear about your situation. I highly recommend getting your hip replaced so you can get back to doing what you love. I had an anterior replacement (the front) and a porcelain prosthetic which I was told will last 15 years – and they know I’m very active. Running wasn’t advised but I do it once in a while. You basically can do anything you want after! Mine was done by a great surgeon in California – not sure where you’re located but I could send you his info? Please let me know if you have any more questions.

  10. Claudia Tomcik says:

    Hi Courtney,
    Thank you for your share it it is encouraging that there is hope and you did so well post surgery. I am 38 and danced my whole life into collage but felt my body giving out. I had no idea i have bilateral hip dysplagia until I kept bothering doctors about my pain to take a closer look. I have seen two surgeons and have been told that I have moderate + dysplagia. My left side joint is better than the right one. The right one already has cracks in the bone and osteoarthritis. They don’t like doing a POA on joints like that. I let this pain go for way too long. I now need a total hip replacement on the right and need a POA on the left. What do you think I should do first having gone through at least one of the surgeries yourself?

  11. COURTNEY.DESIGN2424@GMAIL.COM says:

    Hi Claudia,

    I’m SO sorry to hear about your condition. I wish I could be of more help to you as far as which to do first but I am unfamiliar with POA – it was never talked about as an option for either hip. I would definitely consult your Doctor and one or two more. It took me about 5 until I found the right fit for me. All agreed I needed a total hip replacement on the right but had different views on the left. Some wanted to do the THR (total hip replacement) as a posterior approach on my right – which I looked into and is much longer of recovery time because they go through the glut vs anterior – go through the front, and is an outdated practice. Have you had consultations with more than one doctor? I also have advanced osteoarthritis on both sides. I hope that helps a little …

  12. Taylor says:

    Hello Courtney! Love the name btw my daughters name she is 9. Anyways when I was about 7 years old I have having horrible pains in my hips lots of popping aching and sometimes it would lock up and I wouldn’t be able to walk at all, my father would have to carry me. It woke me out of my sleep it was so bad we went to so many specialists in Iowa where we live and also went to Mayo Clinic. They did xrays mris bone scans and sounds like they never really knew questioned JRA or arthritis in the bones found enfussion on my hips saw I had limited rotation in both hips my parents said the end result was take Advil don’t let her do too much know her limits. Couldn’t run longer than an hour without being in so much pain couldn’t and still can’t cross my legs. Forward to now I’m 27 years old I worked at FedEx as delivery driver the pain of getting in and out of the van hurt sitting too long in the car was hurting. When I was a server it was worst some days I couldn’t drive home pain was so awful. so I went to the doctor. The first orthopedic surgeon I saw said wow your hips are horrible you have got to be in so much pain let’s do the one hurting you first and see if we need the other one done. Didn’t explain just said you have hip dysplasia so I researched myself. I saw a second surgeon who wants to do both have the right done and then once it heals the left right away. Oh and the crazy thing is when I was younger the worst one was my left hip is worst to me but in X-ray still left hip worst. I guess I just would like advice and someone to talk to who knows about this and who has been thru it. I wish they would have found out what I had sooner so I could have lived a semi normal life. Hope you have a great day!

  13. COURTNEY.DESIGN2424@GMAIL.COM says:

    Hi Taylor,

    So sorry to hear about how much pain you’re experiencing – it can really affect your personality and quality of relationships – including with yourself (I know it did mine). I would get another opinion if that’s an option – someone might do them both at the same time if they are both in the last stages of function (basically non-functioning). Honestly, if both are excruciating I would do both. One right after the other, or at the same time. If not, do the one that you can’t function with any more first then see how long you can wait until the other one is unbearable. I had such a great experience (all things considered) with mine. Don’t let doctors tell you ‘you’re too young to do them both’ – Quality of life is WAY more important and it sounds like yours has already been greatly affected. I saw a LOT of doctors before feeling comfortable with my surgeon – you’ll know them when you find them. Mine explained everything to me in detail and only offered the anterior approach (this is the modern way to do it). If a surgeon wants to do posterior and doesn’t offer anterior that was a red flag for me and I didn’t go back to them. I hope this helps, and if not please follow up with ANY questions you have. Hope you find relief soon <3

  14. Karl Fitzmaurice says:

    This is a great story but does anyone know how long someone can cope with hip dysplacia before getting surgery? I am from Ireland but I am in Louisiana in college as I was awarded a track scholarship. I got diagnosed with Hip Dysplacia while over here and the insurance from athletics won’t cover me and I am not supposed to go home until my degree is complete. The pain is excrutiating and it gets worse everyday. Its making me a very negative person and I am gaining a lot of weight since I cannot run any more. Any help is appreciated. Thank you

  15. COURTNEY.DESIGN2424@GMAIL.COM says:

    Hi Karl,

    Thanks for reaching out, and I’m so sorry about your situation – it’s an extremely unique one. I was able to continue pretty intense yoga and workouts right before my surgery (while pregnant) with Cortisone injections. I was told they were my ‘last option’ in the ‘last stages’ because they cause bone deterioration – but I WAS in the very last stages of use of my right hip. I’ve read that it doesn’t work for everyone – but it did for me, and might for you! They typically last 3 -4 months and took the pain down so much it’s hard to explain. I’d also recommend trying not to gain weight (eating healthier) because every 5 pounds of gain puts 15 pounds of pressure on the hips, and the heavier you are, the longer recovery from your replacement will take. This is hard work but you can do it. Let me know what they say!

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