M-J

I am a student physiotherapist in the UK, and I have bilateral hip dysplasia and have had recent surgeries. My left hip was diagnosed and treated as a newborn and ‘re-diagnosed’ at age 26 after some years of experiencing symptoms in my hip. It took a number of years after that and a lot of to-ing and fro-ing for me to find someone experienced enough to then correctly diagnose my right hip also (at age 31) and be able to treat them both. My journey involved many health professionals and sadly much conflicting information, I got the impression that there is not very much awareness or understanding of adult hip dysplasia amongst health professionals.

I had been treated as a newborn for a ‘clicky hip’ and my mum had been told that it was then resolved, so when I started experiencing symptoms in my early 20s I didn’t put 2 and 2 together. When I was eventually diagnosed I didn’t even know that this was called hip dysplasia! I thought nothing of it to begin with because my symptoms were so mild at first, I only felt pain when I was doing sport, so I just stopped doing sport for a while. I found it very difficult to find a consultant who could explain what was going on with my hips and offer me surgery to treat it.

I’ve now had pelvic osteotomies on both hips and I am in the later stages of recovery. It has been an emotional rollercoaster going through these big surgeries and doing the rehab for such a long time, but I believe it has been worth it. I’m glad I was able to have the surgeries so that I can delay having a hip replacement until later in life. I am able to walk more and more now.

My experiences doing so much rehab gave me the idea to change career into physiotherapy, and although I had to take time off for surgeries part way through, I am now in my final year and will soon be a qualified physiotherapist! I really hope to use my experiences as a patient to influence healthcare and raise awareness of this condition in adults.




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  1. Fiona (Singapore) says:

    Hi, glad your surgery went well.
    I am 6 week after my PAO. Recovery was torturing & I ended with numbness on my right foot and also a foot drop condition.
    I am now praying for miracle & healing.

    • M-J S says:

      Hi Fiona,
      I’m sorry to hear your recovery has been difficult so far. It’s still pretty early yet at only 6 weeks post-op. I found the recovery to be quite a number of months after my PAO, and it takes a lot of rehab and determination. I hope things start to get easier for you.

  2. Lindsay C says:

    Hi M-J!!

    I am a physical therapist in the United States and recently had a bilateral labral tear repair in both hips (one in 8/17 and one in 10/17.). My MD has also told me that both hips are severely dysplastic. My problem is that I’m still having a lot of pain (more achy than sharp) all the time and I’m having a very difficult time walking because I’m essentially stuck in an anterior pelvic tilt because the ant joint is so tight and painful. I’ve been thinking about asking about the PAO and wanted to see what your experience was like and how long the recovery was. Thank you for your help!!

    • M-J S says:

      Hi Lindsay,
      Thank you for reading my story. PAO is a big surgery to go through and there is definitely a lot to think about. From my experience I found that it is really important to find a surgeon who is highly experienced, and who does a high volume of PAO surgeries. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about their experience, most hip dysplasia surgeons would not be offended by that and may actually expect you to ask that. They also need to have good links and communication with other hospital staff and physiotherapists. Despite how major the surgery is, I think it is worth it as it is delaying the need for an early hip replacement and it should improve pain and function in day to day life. There are some online support groups which are good to go on to ask others what they have found. I hope things go well.

  3. Susan says:

    I’m the Mother who went through 2 PAO surgeries with my daughter and I STRONGLY advise you to seek out a surgeon who specializes in PAO for adults. Check references and really make sure that you have a strong support system in place before you go under the knife. There are a few support groups online to help.

    • M-J S says:

      Hi Susan,
      Thank you for your reply. Yes, it’s definitely important to find a highly experienced surgeon who undertakes a high volume of PAO surgeries. And having a good support system is also really important during the recovery. Being on crutches is hard, but worth it in the end.

  4. Dina says:

    Hello everyone,
    I just wanted to chime in and share my story as well. I was born with severe dysplatic hips and was put in a cast at 4 months old for a few months then had braces on my legs. I was left with a mild limp but managed to live a normal life. It wasnt until i hit my thirtys that i started to feel pain. It started with lower back pain through my thirtties and mid forties. Then my laberum torn in my right hip and I suffered with pain for many years. Then when i hit fifty i became crippled. I could no longer walk the pain was unbearable in my right hip. I needed hip replacements in both hips with my right hip needing to be done asap. I wanted to share that having that the hip replacement was a miracle. I never knew what it was like to have a normal hip. I feel amazing. Im having my left hip done on March 5 2018 as it is starting to give me problems. Dont be scared to have the hips replacements as it will be life changing. Good luck to all and happy to answer questions.

  5. Becky Lomax says:

    Hi M-J,

    There seem to be quite a few similarities between your case of dysplasia and mine, so I was wondering if I could have your advice.

    I am currently studying part time Ostoepathy in London. I have finished my first year and have 4 more years of study to go. I have had left hip pain since the age of 20, I am now 26. Only in the last few months have I had a proper diagnosis and have been listed to have the PAO. Since the last year my right hip has also become painful, which is also dysplasic.

    I am unsure as to whether to continue my studies and have my first hip operated on in June (over my summer break) or whether to have it done as soon as possible in Jan/Feb. I am concerned the longer I leave it, the more damage will be done, and so potentially the outcome might not be as good. On the other-hand trying to catch up on studies – in particular being able to do the practical uni work – is a concern of mine. I don’t know how realistic timings to study and do the practical skills would be after surgery. How much time did you have off?

    Also I was wondering how long after the first hip op did you have the 2nd one done?

    Would very much appreciate your advice,

    Many thanks,

    Becky

  6. M-J Sharp says:

    Hi Becky,

    Thanks for your reply. There is a very helpful facebook group called “Peri-acetabular Osteotomy (PAO) UK” which is very informative and good for finding out people’s experiences during recovery and the practical aspects of surgery. You might find this a good resource.

    It’s difficult to decide when to have the surgery and juggle it around life circumstances. My understanding is having the surgery earlier is better than later, but in terms of the joint getting worse I don’t think a few months will make a huge difference. However, I would recommend you could discuss this with your surgeon a bit more? As it partly depends on the quality of your hip joint as it is now, so I’m not sure how that is with you.

    I guess it’s also taking into account your level of function and how much pain you are in now, i.e. if you are already getting to the point where you are struggling with the pain day to day then is it better to try and go for the surgery sooner? but if you are managing the pain well and feel you can manage for now then maybe it could wait?

    You could always consider seeing a physio too? Even though ultimately going for the surgery might be the solution for you in the long run, sometimes physio can be helpful in the interim to help manage pain, find some good strengthening exercises for your hip which can only be helpful for recovering after the surgery. Recovery from surgery is hard work so anything you can do beforehand will help.

    It’s difficult to decide on surgery when it’s so disruptive to life, and I guess only you know your own circumstances. I wish you all the best with it!

    – MJ

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