Patient Stories


Hello, My name is Natalie and I am 27 years old. Approximately two years ago I was diagnosed with Bilateral Hip Displaysia and Femoroacetabular Impingement.

I was probably born with it and was checked apparently, but x-rays were never done. Growing up I was always tiny, I was rubbish at running and couldn’t get both of my legs to do breaststroke swimming, and I always thought that I was just useless at it! You would think a PE teacher might have mentioned something, they should really look into training them to look out for signs of problems like this. Anyway as it usually is if I wasn’t an active person I might never have noticed that I had a problem, or so I’m told, however I have always ridden horses and in university took things to a whole new level working on professional yards. At this point in my life I was riding probably 8-12 hours a week, on my feet from 8am to 8pm and hiking as part of my degree up to 20 miles a day on field work trips. I was really fit and loved it. Then everything changed overnight, im not sure what caused it exactly but I think it was a particularly naughty horse, I initially put the pain down to a groin injury that I treated with a private physio immediately. It just never got better, when I left Uni I had to leave the physio that was treating me and I just got on with life as best I could.

As time passed, things slowly just got worse, I took up Pilates saw chiropractors, physios … nothing really helped and I remember thinking that maybe I was being lazy or that I was just wasn’t as fit as I was. If I mentioned it at the GP’s it was easily brushed off as “you’re a horse rider”. The stupid thing was that if I had kicked up a stink at the start I wouldn’t have had to go through this for 6 years. I should have stood up for myself more and I kick myself for letting it happen. That being said it took an epic tantrum down the phone to the GP to get an simple X-ray, which showed the hip displaysia, I don’t think they would have believed me if I hadn’t had that come up. I would have been fobbed off again, even with the x-rays they tried to fob me off! It took an MRI scan to actually find out the cause of the pain, torn cartilage. Thankfully I live near to one of the best orthopaedic hospitals in the country, and they have so far been excellent.

Looking back I don’t think anyone including myself truly realised how bad things had gotten towards the end. I remember being constantly exhausted, sleepwalking through the day, the pain was such I don’t think I actually felt it anymore, I think my body switched it off or i was just too used to it. I would take a painkiller and not actually notice any difference. It was the sort of pain that crept up on you slowly until it was all encompassing and you can’t actually remember what life was like without it. The side effects of the pain were bad, I have always been skinny doctors have regularly told me that I need to put on weight and I have regularly been treated like I had an eating disorder. The stupid thing was I liked food! I would go through phases of not feeling hungry and phases of constantly feeling starving, nether the less I would eat three big meals a day and snack constantly but would not put an ounce of weight on (not that anyone other than my mother believed me). As it got worse my weight dropped even more and I started having problems with my skin and hair. By this point I knew what was wrong with me, it was just a case of getting through the next few months and hoping that the operations would help things.

I had my first hip arthroscopy with labral repair in October 2017 on my right hip and my second in February 2018 on my left. I went from sleeping 12 hours a day and still feeling tired to sleeping 7 hours and waking up bouncing off of the walls literally overnight. It was incredible and I have to say I found it very hard to sit still.

One thing I have noticed throughout all of this is that I am not very patient and if I could go back I would change things, I would have had my operation asap and not waited six months for October (I didn’t want to miss the summer riding). I would have stopped riding competitively the year before and riding all together when I was exhausted with just normal life. I would have not pushed myself so hard after the first op. I just felt so much better immediately and I desperately wanted my life back. It’s been a hard slog, even my mother has said that she hadn’t realized how bad I was, and it’s only now that I’m fit and active that it became obvious how sick I was this time last year.

Now three months on from my second operation I feel like I’m starting to get me life back, I’ve put on over 4kg, I have so much energy I don’t know what to do with it and I feel healthier than I have in years. I am not pain free however. My left hip is excellent and doesn’t cause me any real problems other than a bit of weakness, which I am still working on. My right hip which was done first is still painful and I hate to admit it but actually feels like it is getting worse. Don’t get me wrong, its better 80% of the pain I was in has gone. At my 6 month check they announced that if I am still in pain there are further procedures that they could do, terrifying procedures!! PAO (Periacetabular Osteotomy) google it and you will see, terrifying! Six months of recovery!! Who knows how long until I would be back on a horse. It’s safe to say I don’t want it, but as I’m sat here with my right hip throbbing slightly I’m also scared that I will go back to how I was! We came to an agreement to talk about it at my left hip six month check in July.

For now I’m just enjoying the sunshine and learning how to ride again. My position is completely different and I don’t want to fall back into old habits so I’ve been taking it slowly. The weirdest thing I have noticed is that my left thigh has become a bit hypersensitive since the operation, I am just rubbing it and hoping that it will sort itself out, though it’s a small price to pay for my life back.