How My FAI Story Began

How the heck do I start this blog?  I’m not a writer.  I’m just someone who, when faced with the prospect of hip arthroscopy to fix his FAI, read a lot of blogs on the subject.  If you wrote a blog about surgery for FAI, I read it.  Seriously, I read them all.

I’m not sure if reading all those blogs made me more or less scared of having surgery, but it did make me want to share my own experience.  I can’t promise that this will be helpful for you OR for me, but I’m hoping for both.  Anyway, I’m writing this post just one week before my FAI surgery, so here is the story of how I got to this point:

I’ve always been a very active recreational athlete.  I don’t participate in races (running in a straight line is boring), triathlons (running AND swimming? Pass), or weightlifting competitions (I’d love to, but I only weigh ~135, and I don’t think they make weight classes that low), but I do go to the gym 4-5 days per week, and am often involved in multiple recreational sport leagues at any given time (these include competitive sports like flag football, dodgeball, and volleyball, and more recreational activities such as softball and kickball).  As an agile 26-year-old, being able to sprint/jump/move fast in general is very important to me.

A few months ago (Jan. 2013), a volleyball match left me with a lot of discomfort in my left hip/groin.  I thought I must’ve strained my groin and took a couple weeks off (incidentally, I was scheduled for LASIK surgery on January 10th, so that made taking a couple weeks off a little easier).  Unfortunately, the pain would go away with rest, but come right back with activity.  At worst, I would have trouble walking, though could still do it, and at best, my hip was uncomfortable but I was still able to run effectively (i.e. play flag football).  High-impact sports such as volleyball, and high range of motion activities such as squats, were pretty much out of the question.

And that’s how it’s been in the few months since early January.

In between, I tried physical therapy and a cortisone injection.  The PT seemed to help, but only because I stopped other physical activity at the time.  Once I returned to sports, the pain came right back.  And the injection only provided a small amount of relief for a couple of days.  At that point, it was time to think about surgery.

The decision to have surgery was a difficult one.  On one hand, I can still play many of the sports I love at a high level (I played flag football today, in fact).  On the other hand, I have certain limitations in the gym and in high-impact sports, and I don’t particularly enjoy the sharp pain in my hip after activity.  Additionally, many surgeons I met with talked to me about the long-term prospects of someone with untreated FAI, and it seemed that I would be headed for an early hip replacement if I didn’t do something.

Once I decided to pursue the hip arthroscopy for FAI, I set out to meet all of Richmond, VA’s hip surgeons (or so it seemed).  Ultimately, I had consultations with 4 different surgeons before settling on one and scheduling my surgery for April 30th, which is 8 days from today.

So that’s my hip story.  Here are some additional notes about my preparations for surgery and recovery:

  • My surgeon said he didn’t typically prescribe PT, which goes against all of the blogs I’ve read about FAI.  However, he didn’t argue with me when I told him I’d prefer PT, so I met with a therapist I’ve worked with before, and I’ll be seeing him about a week after surgery, with regular visits to follow (probably 1-3x per week).  Additionally, the therapist said he may try to come watch the surgery so he’ll be well informed about how it went and what my limitations will be in the days and weeks following.
  • I’ve read a lot about people using Continuous Passive Motion machines and ice machines, such as the ones made by Game-Ready.  My insurance will not cover either, but I think I will rent an ice machine if I can, on the recommendation of a colleague
  • My surgery is on a Tuesday, so I’ve taken the rest of that week off.  Only one week off may be optimistic, but I have the ability to work from home, so hopefully this will help me return to work sooner.
  • My girlfriend is learning to drive a manual car so that we can switch vehicles for a few weeks, which will allow me to drive sooner (it’s my left hip that’s being operated on).  I tried to teach her, but she fired me.
  • I’m doing a lot of physical activity in the weeks leading up to surgery, in some sort of “enjoy it while you got it” way.  In the last 10 days, I played football twice, softball once, dodgeball once, and went hiking out west in Zion Canyon.  Incidentally, this is reinforcing the fact that something is wrong with my hip.
  • I’m trying to keep everything in perspective – there are a lot worse things than a hip scope, and I know I’ll need to remind myself of this a lot during recovery.

If you’ve had a hip scope for FAI, I’d love to hear from you.  And if you’re like me, and facing an upcoming surgery, feel free to keep coming back to follow my story.  I’m planning on making this one of the positive FAI stories out there.  I know people really only tend to share their negative stories on the internet (misery loves company, after all), but seriously, it gets exhausting reading about all the bad things that can happen.  I’m determined to experience, and share, a positive outcome.  My goal is to return to pain-free recreational sports and weightlifting, and I will reach that goal.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Brian

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10 thoughts on “How My FAI Story Began

  1. Great blog. I’ve scheduled my FAI surgery (cam impingement/torn labrum) for September and appreciate all of your insight. Good luck in your continued recovery.

  2. Hi,
    I was just diagnosed with FAI, no (no tear) but the nerve is impinged. Had an MRI. My only options are: Ultrasound guided cortizone shot and if that doesn’t work, surgery to shave the bone, that is flat.
    My question for you: I am not an athlete, but I do cardio 4 days a week on my home treadmill at 3.8 mph for 50 minutes. I find as I am doing this, there is much discomfort in my hip and after.
    Is it making it worse by continuing treadmill?
    I have to work out by doing cardio in some way. Any suggestions?
    Thanks and hope you are feeling back to normal,
    Meri

    • Hi Meri,
      Sorry to hear about your hip. Unfortunately, I cannot say if the treadmill is making it worse; that sounds like a question for the doctor. But I can recommend an alternative form of cardio – swimming! I would think that swimming is less stressful on all your joints, and believe me, it’s an excellent cardio workout.

      Good luck, let us know how it goes for you!

      Brian

  3. Hi, I am only 15 and am really scared about all of this. I have been having pain for over a year now. I was diagnosed with FAI about 1 year ago and have seen 3 doctors, one really pushing for surgery, another that said nothing was wrong with me, and a pediatric dr that if I do decide on surgery, will be the one I choose. I unfortunately have it in both hips. I was dancing intensely when the pain started. I was doing about 20+ hours per week. Then I stopped dancing for 3 months and did lots of physical therapy. I then went back to dance but at about only 10 hours per week. This is when I got an MRI that showed I didnt have a labral tear. Over winter break I was started on celebrex 200mg and It has been really helpful. I havent been dancing for the past 3 months and couldnt dance full out for the two months after winter break. I didnt notice the change at first but when I stop taking the medication, it was really bad. With the medication, I only have at most a sharp 6 like once a say and I am mostly at a 3. With out the medication I have a lot of lower back pain and I am consistently at a 5-6. I am also a golfer. I made varsity as a freshman and went to state and shot a 76 the first day and an 85 the next. I tied for tenth out of the top 84 girls in the state which is great as a freshman. I am really scared to get the surgery but I dont know how much longer I can wait. I am just scared it isnt going to work and long term it isnt going to do much and that i will have spent all this time and money for more pain. I have had 5 friends in the dance world go through this and they have come out great and recommend it. And my best friend is also getting the surgery done this summer and we can be surgery buddies. I really dont want to take off golf and put my life on hold but there really isnt any other time to do it. What possible complications did they explain to you? where there any complications with your surgery? have you had any issues with scar tissue? If i do get the surgery, I wont be returning to dance, only golf. What do you suggest?

    • Hi Sarah,

      Since I’m not a doctor, I can’t give advice. I would think the best thing to do is to make a decision with your preferred doctor and your family that you all agree is best for you and don’t look back. As for complications explained to me, there were all the ones about general risks of surgery, but nothing specific to hip scopes. My experience with the surgery has been that the recovery period is much longer than expected, as I did not find myself at 100% just 3-6 months post-op.

      I hope that helps, and good luck!
      Brian

  4. Hi Brian,

    I suffered from the FAI and torn labrum above one year, sometimes I can’t even fall asleep the whole night and it affects my daily life severely. But finally, my FAI surgery is at tomorrow, and when I am reading those blogs which also recorded their hip stories I found your blog and your hip story. I feel so impressed and encouraged because I was also a sporty girl before I got this pain, and I don’t want to lose the power and the hope for getting back to run and exercise again.
    But after reading your stories, I felt a little bit worried because I noticed that you really did lots of PT and self-exercise to recover. But I am afraid that the armamentariums in my hometown is not that advanced, and also worried about that I just can’t recover 95% like you because of those facilities differences.
    Just want to share my feelings to you. 🙂

    Best regards,

    Eva

    • Hi Eva,
      First, good luck tomorrow!

      Most of the PT and exercise that I performed did not require much equipment, so I think you will find that as long as your doctors are capable, everything will be ok. Positive thoughts and commitment to the recovery process will go a long way!

      I hope everything goes great tomorrow!
      Brian

  5. Hi,
    Thanks for sharing.
    I recently had a FAI and torn labrum repair. I am slowly recovering. I thought that because it was arthroscopy that somehow meant a lesser surgery. Ha, my body disagreed. I am about 6 weeks post op. I still use crutches when needed. My muscles are really not as coordinated as I thought they would. I’m also very tight in my quadraceps. I’m Currently getting physical therapy. How are you doing now? I couldn’t see any other blog but this one. Have you regained your strength? Any suggestions for how much to push yourself without pushing too far? Thanks

    • Hi Dawn Ellen,
      I used crutches until about 7 weeks post-op, and even then, I used one crutch for longer distances for another week or so. Definitely check with your doctor if you’re concerned about the timeline. As for how I’m doing now, mostly great! I still wake up sore some days, but the really important thing is to keep all your muscles and joints healthy. I’m no exercise science expert, but I do a lot of foam rolling. Good luck!
      Brian

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