The night before my 6 month check-up my dad was playing with me and move my legs a bit. My left leg fell in a way the should not have been possible, but I just giggled. The next day it was confirmed by the family Dr. that I had DDH of my left hip. From there I spent time in a harness, which did not fix the dysplasia. I had a series of body casts, again these did not set my hip right. Eventually, I went to the hospital for surgery to have metal pins inserted to hold my hip in place. After being declared fixed, at 2 1/2 years old, I would need to take frequent breaks while walking or playing. I would not be able to walk 1.5 blocks to my grandparents house without sitting at least once. My mom said I never complained about pain, only that my hip was “tired”. This led to another surgery to have the metal rods removed. At the end of this surgery, my left hip was about 1.5 cm longer than my right. As I grew this 1.5 cm distance stayed the same, so the doctors grew less concerned.
Starting around the age of 15, I started to feel severe pain in my right hip. We went back to the doctor that had tracked all my follow-up care and were told it was growing pains and it should get better. The pain continued through collage. At times it was fine and other days it would be so severe I couldn’t walk. As I finished collage and was applying to graduate school, pain became more frequent. Over the next several years, I lived in 3 different cities and went to several orthopedic specialist to try and get a solution to the pain in my right hip. Each one read my complaint of right hip pain, took X-Rays and come back into the room with comments on my left hip’s location. I was told that they couldn’t figure out my right hip problem because they couldn’t compare it to my left hip. I was prescribed lots of physical therapy. Each time physical therapy would made the pain worse.
Finally, I was reffed to an orthopedic surgeon who took the time to get and look over my records from when I was a baby and everything after that. Then he did a round of MRIs. His conclusion was that my left hip not being completely in the right place my whole life and the fact that this made my left leg longer had done damage to my right hip. While he couldn’t see anything definitive, he wanted to do surgery on my right hip to try and “clean-up” some things in it. This was about 1 month before I was going to Poland for 5 weeks and 6 months before my wedding. Since there was no guarantee the surgery could be done in time for me to walk down the aisle, I elected to hold off.
At this point, my sister, who is an occupational therapist, suggested neuromuscular therapy. After 10 years of so much pain I would not be able to walk or would cry myself to sleep many days, I decided to give it a try. It only took a couple of sessions before I felt a difference. Not only did the pain start to get better, but my range or motion improved as well. After about 2 months of weekly sessions, I was able to start tapering sessions and eventually went to monthly sessions for maintenance and have now not gone in 4 years. As she worked, I could feel the tightness of the muscles around my hip and began to realize that 25 years of poor hip structure tightened these muscles to allow me to walk and do basic movements. I eventually learned to stretch and massage in specific ways and can mostly keep the pain away. I still have arthritis in both hips and can feel my left hip pop and move in and out of place often. That said, I now know the early signs and when to rest, stretch, etc. In short, I have much more control over the problem.
Almost two years ago, my kids started taekwondo. Although I’ve never been athletic, I saw the things that would do and wanted to learn. So about a year ago my husband and I started too. When I started, I was worried about my hip and if it could take it. The last thing I wanted was to go back to nearly constant pain. Actually, the opposite happened. The combination of stretching for flexibility (particularly in the hips) and the kicks and other movements we learn that build strength, have led to less bad days. In addition I can now almost do the splits and kick above my head. I still avoid excessive jump kicking and anything that makes my hip pop or move in a way that does not feel right, but am able to do most of the moves and have a lot of fun with it.
I’m sure this is not a solution for everyone, but am glad that I went with some non-traditional methods. I often joke that several very intelligent doctors could not fix my problem, but a woman with an art degree (who happened to also be training as a neuromuscular therapist too) did. Someday, I’ll need hip replacements, but I’m going to hold off as long as I can.