Patient Stories

Rita’s Story

I’ve always been very flexible. didn’t realize i was ‘hyper-flexible’ and that there was danger in over extending beyond the normal range of motion. I thought you couldn’t be too stretched out, too flexible. Wrong. I’ve also always had crackable joints, knuckles, back, neck  etc. and hips. often I’d get this odd feeling that my hip wasn’t quite in it’s socket, so I’d stretch my legs out while standing and bend to one side until it ‘cracked’ and popped back in place.

I had NO idea that things were actually out of place and that this was a sign of problems to come.

I was first diagnosed with osteoarthritis in my early 30s. My doctor said that, while it was a normal part of aging, I was very young to be starting the degenerative process. I wasn’t an athlete, didn’t lift weights, nothing to indicate more than normal wear and tear. I didn’t think much about it. He didn’t offer and I didn’t ask what lay ahead for me, what I could expect to happen, and most importantly, what I could do to lessen the chances of serious problems. No stern warnings, no alarms, just a casual observation. How could I know what he meant? As is normal, since the pain was in my back, all he looked at was my back.

I am not 53. Since then I have had problems in almost every major joint–with fusions in my neck and back, shoulder and knee issues, and now my hip. Actually the hip started hurting in 2008 on the right side. it was then that I discovered that I had hip dysplasia. The doctor didn’t seem too fazed by it, didn’t make a fuss over it, and they told me it meant I was more likely to develop arthritis there, and that was it. Once again, he only looked at the hips, as if they weren’t connected to any other part of my body. I had a lot of pain and ultimately couldn’t walk very far. Tests showed I didn’t have bad arthritis there and didn’t seem like a candidate for surgery. They didn’t know why I was in so much pain. I had multiple MRIs, pain killers, and physical therapy out the wazoo.

A year later I could hardly walk and I went back to the doctor demanding answers. He happened to take a plain old xray at a particular angle and he said, “well I don’t know about your hip, but you should see a back specialist right away’. Almost immediately after seeing the back doctor I had a double fusion in my lower spine and my hip pain miraculously disappeared. Four years later and it’s all still just grand.

What does this have to do with hip dysplasia? Fast forward four years, and I find that my other hip hurts–in a different way, and I have all the tests and symptoms of, not only hip dysplasia, which I find out is more serious than my first doctor led me to believe, but also arthritis and a labral tear that will probably require surgery. I’m now walking with a limp a lot of the time.

What I wonder is whether, when I was in my 30s, diagnosed with an unusually early onset of osteoarthritis, it would have been a good idea to get a look at the rest of my joints, look at the whole body and see what was going on and what to do from that point forward to prevent the kind of joint by joint deterioration I’m seeing now. It’s very frustrating. Seems to be largely a failure of western medicine to look at the whole patient–hyperflexibility, sensitivity to pain, etc.–so we could develop a plan of action for me to stay as healthy as possible.

Hopefully my new hip doctor will take a more holistic approach. I hear great things about him and am looking forward to the next steps. I don’t want hip replacement, but from this website it sounds like it’s inevitable. Makes me wonder: could they have detected and corrected it when I was an infant or child?

Thank you for bringing attention to this problem.