Patient Stories

April’s Story

Wow! A site to inform others about hip dysplasia! And a place where they don’t ask, “like the dog?”!

My mother was born with hip dysplasia in 1939. In the 40s she spent 8 years on crutches due to her condition. It didn’t help. She grew up and as an adult suffered tremendous pain from the short leg and the deformed hip. Why she didn’t receive the help she needed, I don’t know. I wish she had. Especially after it was discovered that I, too, was born with it. Doctors missed the condition in me. When my mother had it, it was thought by her doctor (and maybe others as well) that the condition was prominent in boys, not girls. We now know that it is girls that tend to develop this condition. Anyway, I always walked “pigeon-toed” and my mother and grandmothers always swore I walked that way to get “new” shoes. As a teenager, my knee began to sublex and I began the first of many years of painful sublexes. I was petrified of needles, so when the fluid would gather after my knee would sublex, I rubbed the fluid out away from the knee to avoid it being drained. Eventually, my pain tolerance grew very high and I could literally walk through a sublex and keep going. I also had a short leg and my body compensated for my hip in many ways although I remained ignorant of my condition.

Things began to unravel when I was about 28. I was on travel at a training session for my job when my back muscles seized up and I couldn’t move. I was in immense pain for several days before I finally made it to a chiropractor who took x-rays and discovered a few things about me. She discovered the hip dysplasia (it didn’t really register at the time because my hip didn’t hurt and I didn’t fully understand), my spine was too straight and I had a lot of arthritis in my lower back from an injury I received as a teenager. And she noted my short leg. A lift in my shoe, several adjustments and treatments later, I was on my way again. Or so I thought.

One May I blew out my knee rounding second base in a softball game. The knee went out and it was a terrible one this time. I couldn’t walk this one off, not when the knee would sublex with just the slightest touch of my toe to the ground. No sir, I wasn’t getting out of this one. Not too long after this incident, a friend of mine referred me to the doctor who would become a savior to me.

My first visit was a memorable one. Dr P sent in a college intern to speak with me. He would learn really fast that I was a patient that he could use to enlighten and educate his interns who were becoming lax in their patient care and too confident in their suggestions for treatments. The intern suggested physical therapy to strengthen the muscle and I raised my hand to stop him. I said, please don’t waste my time by suggesting physical therapy. It won’t work. And as I said this, I picked up my kneecap and rolled it around and said, “Does this look like a problem that will be fixed by physical therapy? If that is all you are going to suggest, I might as well go home.”

The doctor came in at that moment and said, “She’s right.” And he held up the x-rays he had taken. I was scheduled for knee surgery. Because of the “way I was made” he would have to cut the muscle, tighten it and reattach it a little farther over so that it would keep my kneecap in place. He saw that the hip dysplasia was the cause and he was doing what he could to try and fix that. That first surgery was the first of 3 knee surgeries. The hip and short leg also took its toll on my back. I eventually had to have an IDET (Intra-discal Electro-Thermal) procedure. Then, in 2005, my right hip started to hurt me. First, it was an occasional stabbing pain. Then it started to collapse under me. I sucked up the pain because I was still fairly young. Too young, really for a hip replacement. I was in my late 30s by then. In 2008 I had a labral tear in my right hip. The doctor couldn’t fix the tear due to my condition so he cleaned it up the best he could to buy me some time.

In December 2009 I lost my fight against this condition when I was passed in the mall by a little ole lady with a walker and humpback. I burst into tears. I had lost all sense of self confidence. I constantly walked with a limp due to the pain and I had all but had to stop exercising because it hurt so badly to walk. It hurt to do anything. I wasn’t sleeping. I wasn’t doing much of anything. I had been doing Weightwatchers for years and had met my goal and became a lifetime member….until 2008 when the pain became so bad the weight started creeping on.

I finally was given my total hip replacement in February 2009. On my brother’s birthday. His birthday, my present! I knew that the moment I woke up, that the doctor had completed the surgery because I felt AMAZING! i felt like I was lying on a pop bottle but it was much better than the pain I had been feeling! I was thrilled! I had a new hip! The “cadillac” of titanium hips my doctor said. I felt elated and was walking on clouds!

Since the surgery, I have enjoyed all my activities pain free. My leg is now the same length as the other one and I love every minute of life with this new hip. I do have some pain in my left hip because it did so much work in compensating for my right hip, but it’s minimal and I treat it with care and do exercises with it to help it heal. And of course I have residual pain and occasional flare ups in my back due to the conditions that started before my hip was replaced but the best part is my hip dysplasia is gone and my hip feels great!

I want to do what I can to support those that have this condition or have a loved one that has this condition. There is just not enough awareness out there and we need more. It’s not just dogs that get this condition. A lot of people have this condition and don’t know it. I need to do something to help others and encourage those that need encouragement and support. I hope my story helps someone. Anyone.