FAI (Femoroacetabular Impingement) Recovery Update: 18 months post-op

Hi everyone- happy Monday! Fall has officially arrived here in Bloomington and man, is it beautiful. This is my favorite time of year and I am soaking in as much as I can. This is perfect running weather or pretty much anything outdoor weather which means there are lots of evening walks, long runs and time spent with a warm cup of coffee or tea.

If you’ve been following my blog since it’s inception, you know that I began writing because of my FAI (Femoroacetabular Impingement) diagnosis and surgery. I wanted to spread the word about FAI so that people – specifically athletes- didn’t go un-diagnosed as I did for years. To my surprise, this blog has become a huge repository of comments, stories and information surrounding FAI, diagnosis, surgery options and recovery questions. I AM THRILLED that I’ve been able to share my story and allow others to share theirs as well.

As you can imagine, I get many questions regarding my own personal journey including my recovery since surgery. November marks 18 months post-operation- WOOO HOO! Thankful is an understatement when it comes to how I feel about my health and athletic ability. I’ve written a couple of posts on FAI in the past- here and here .

With all that being said, I felt like I needed to give those interested, an update on my recovery. As with any major surgery, recovery can take months and years when it comes to rebuilding muscle, flexibility, strength and other physical related issues.

To make this as simple as possible, I listed below some of the most common questions I receive via comments on the blog or through my blog’s email. Although I am happy to reply to anyone who sends me an email, I thought this might help with some of the most common questions I receive.

So, read on to see how I’m doing 18 months post-op from my FAI surgery!

Thanks to Primal Pacs (www.primalpacs.com) for the sweet tank!

Thanks to Primal Pacs (www.primalpacs.com) for the sweet tank!

 

On My Diagnosis:

How did you know you had FAI?

In June of 2010 while training for the Muncie Half Ironman, I was in a cycling accident where I landed on the asphalt (very hard) on my left hip. Two weeks after the accident I raced Muncie and continued training for the Chicago Marathon taking place in October. I felt fine until one week after the marathon. I was doing an 8 mile recovery run and about half way through, started having hip pain at the hip joint (not where my FAI was).

After an x-ray was done on my hip and pelvis, I was diagnosed with hip bursitis. I continued to do physical therapy for almost two years (even internal pelvic floor massage) before a physician suggested and allowed an MRI on my hip. The MRI showed a frayed labrum in my hip which they diagnosed as being caused my the FAI CAM impingement in my hip structure.

What symptoms did you experience before you were diagnosed?

At first, I had pain in the bursa sac area of my hip which is a little lower than where your femoral head connects to your hip socket. After rehabbing that for a few months, the pain moved up into my pelvis/hip joint. I would have pain after working out or after long runs. Usually I wouldn’t have pain during my activity, it was afterwards that I would be in pain.

I also experienced pain when I would sit down for periods of time and then stand up and not be able to put weight on my leg until I walked a few yards. I never had pain in my glutes or groin which are very common locations for FAI pain.

How did you make your decision to have the repair surgery?

As soon as I was diagnosed and the procedure was explained I was interested in the surgery. I knew two  other females who had Dr. Maiers for their FAI repair and they both had good experiences which made me a bit more at ease. I did a lot of research and asked a lot of questions. For me, it was the fact that ultimately, FAI does not heal itself. Sure, symptoms may go away with the addition of PT, but the underlying issue is a bone structure issue and labral tear which has to be corrected with surgery. I knew that if I waited to do the surgery, it would only be a matter of time before I would have to have it done.

 

On The Surgery Itself:

Did you have to spend the night in the hospital?

I had an overnight stay or an in-patient procedure where I stayed at the hospital for 23 hours. Now, in Bloomington, IN and Indianapolis, IN where Dr. Maiers performs the surgery,  it is no longer an in-patient surgery. Patients are able to leave the same day.

Were you on medications?

Yes. I was on pain medication for a few days after the surgery and was also on a medication to ensure the bone didn’t grow back (I had a femoroplasty- or reshaping of the femoral head). Note: The pain medication made me extremely constipated – not fun!

How did you get around after the surgery?

The day after the surgery I was still fairly immobile since I was still in the hospital. Once I was home, I was on crutches for not quite two weeks. I know many patients though who go from crutches to a cane or hardly even need crutches.

 

On My Recovery:

How long was your recovery?

The length of recovery for me is very relative. There were very specific milestones for me in terms of what I could do when. For example, I did 12 weeks of PT, but credit most of my ability to adding in strength work and also doing some ART and chiropractic work on top of the PT. Each surgeon has a prescribed exercise regime they give and for me personally, mine would add certain hip, quad and glute strengthening exercises each week. I was able to try running at week 8, but only for 1 minute on, 1 minute walking- for only a total of 5 minutes. At week 15 I was able to run a 5k and at 6 months is when all of my groin pain was completely gone. I spent a lot of time with my chiropractor stretching, doing ART and working on my flexibility throughout the 6 months post-op.

When could you run again?

Like I said above,  I was able to try running at week 8, but only for 1 minute on, 1 minute walking- for only a total of 5 minutes. Each week I would add a minute or two and continued building my length and distance.

When could you strength train or do other activities again?

I was able to do upper body strength training immediately after surgery. My husband owns a fitness facility and he wrote my recovery program to get me back into shape. I wrote about the exercises I could do and some I would recommend post-surgery, here. I went to a basic yoga class 4 weeks after surgery and did minimal movements. I wasn’t able to get into all positions, but it felt good to move and stretch. I was able to swim at 3 weeks with limited kicking and hip movement during my lap swims. I started back to interval training about 6 weeks, but with limited exercises. I did some lower body movements, but only the ones that were approved by my PT and what I felt were ok.

What does your activity look like now?

Right now I am training for the Monumental Half Marathon taking place on November 2nd. I raced the Carmel, IN half marathon in April and did the Muncie olympic distance triathlon in June and then the Muncie Ironman 70.3 in July. I do strength training 3 days a week and will begin cross training again with swimming and cycling after the half marathon is over. I occasionally do yoga and will be starting gymnastics again at the end of the month.

Do you still have hip pain?

Knock on wood, but I no longer have any hip pain in the hip that I had surgery on. I do have FAI on my right side and that gives me occasional pain after a speed workout or specific workout. I’m setting myself up for another possible FAI surgery in the next six months. I have an inguinal hernia that I have had since college and will be getting that repaired first sometime in November/December.

 

I hope this helps to answer some of your possible surgery and recovery questions. Feel free to comment and connect with others via this post. I’m happy to reply when I can, even if it’s a little slow sometimes :) In the meantime, Stay Fit & Eat Delicious!

 

 

 

 

Tagged: , , , , , , ,

Comments: 21

  1. Marshall Boden October 29, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    I was just diagnosed with FAI CAM and am pending surgery. I discovered my FAI about the same way as you, it finally did damage during a marathon in April. My doctor told me that I would have to give up running after the surgery and as a marathon runner I find that unacceptable. However, in your experience with recovery were you able to get back to your fitness level before your injury? I am thinking about triathlons instead of marathons so I can still compete in endurance events.

    • Ashley Fleming October 30, 2013 at 7:26 pm

      Hi Marshall- I answer all of these questions in the post I just did on my FAI recovery. I hope that helps and best of luck!

  2. AK October 30, 2013 at 6:16 pm

    Congratulations!! I too had FAI surgery recently (almost 6 months post-op) and it has made all the difference in the world. I think there are a lot of horror stories online but honestly if you find a doctor who is actually an expert in FAI (not just a sports doctor or general orthopedist, or even general hip doctor) it can be a very successful, easy surgery. The important thing is sticking to physical therapy, I think, and finding a good PT who knows FAI! Anyway just want to share congrats and another success story. Happy recovery :)

    • Ashley Fleming October 30, 2013 at 7:37 pm

      Thank you AK! I’m glad to hear you are doing well also!

  3. Paul November 19, 2013 at 10:40 am

    Hi, this has been a great source of information for FAI, thanks alot. I recently had hip arthriscopy for FAI in both hips, with a double hernia and inguinal ligament repair inbetween. I am currently 8 weeks post my last op (left hip).

    Things so far are looking positive.

    I am also available for questions if anyone is yet to have surgery.

    Thanks

    • Ashley Fleming November 21, 2013 at 10:34 pm

      Hi Paul- I’m glad you’ve found this blog useful. Interestingly enough, I have an inguinal hernia in my groin (right side) and will be having it repaired in December. How are you recovering from both the hernia repair and the hip arthroscopy?

      • Paul November 22, 2013 at 5:12 pm

        Hi Ashley, pretty good to be honest, I had my right hip done first, then four weeks after had double hernia and inguinal ligament repair, then four weeks after that my left hip. The hernia op was more painful but only to sneeze, laugh or sitting up without using your arms and pain only lasted a week, apparently if it wasn’t for the hip surgery, I could of been back to normal training between 2-4 weeks. The inguinal ligament repair was because I was getting adductor pain where I couldn’t squeeze my knees together at all, I still have very slight pain doing that but doesn’t stop me being able to squeeze, plus I think it’s still healing, hope this helps :)

    • anita February 13, 2014 at 6:30 pm

      Hi Paul,

      Did you have both your hips done at the same time? which doctor did you go to and how is your recovery now?

      • Paul February 17, 2014 at 3:40 pm

        Hi Anita, no, I had right hip July, double hernia and inguinal ligament repair 4 weeks later, then left hips 4 weeks after that, so 19th September was my last op, back doing martial arts last week in November, albeit lighter than normal. From January I have been training 11 sessions per week (mix of martial arts, gym and yoga) get pain in my right hip on and off, more aching pain. Have my checkup with the surgeon this Friday :) with professor Damien griffin in Coventry, hope this helps :)

  4. Fiona Fornasari December 8, 2013 at 11:56 pm

    Hi Ashley,

    Your blogs have really helped me back since September 2013 when I was diagnosed with bilateral CAM FAI. Reading your experiences, your fitness and diet tips along with your advise and take on your experience have really kept me positive. It has been difficult at times to deal with this considering I am so used to being active.

    i am 11 weeks post surgery (hip arthroscopy and femur osteoplasty) for my left hip and 1 week post surgery for my right hip.

    I completed 2 weeks of home physiotherapy (equivalent to your PT) just pelvic floors, transverse abdominal and spine ROM along with 1/4 squats and then 8 weeks formal physio to get my left hip stronger for the right side (as per my surgeon’s instructions).

    My left hip groin area still aches quite a bit although is reasonably strong (as in I can weight bear fine, walk etc). I find that the more I sit down (say at work, on a chair) that it is more sore and wanted to see if this is when you got the pain in your groin?

    I am scared I have damaged it (re-torn the labrum) when going to the gym.I may have pushed myself twice around 6 weeks post surgery. It doesnt hurt all the time, mainly when I am sitting down for long periods of time.

    Is this when you used to get your pain. My right hip is sore but I only just had surgery 1 week ago so I know its normal.

    I think that it just scares me that I could have re-damaged it, but I also think that I have been taking soooo easy compared to my previous activity. Anyway, I would really appreciate to hear your opinion on the groin pain vs your experience.

    Thank you so much Ashely! Knowing you have recovered and back to your activity is really inspiring to me and reading other people’s posts have been really helpful.

    Fiona :0)

  5. Amiee January 5, 2014 at 7:44 pm

    I am so glad I stumbled across your blog. I love to hear positive stories about people that got back to running after surgery. I am 2 years out from my first FAI surgery and happily returned to running shortly after. When the other hip started to bug, I decided to have the surgery right away and am now 6 weeks out from the other side and I feel great and can’t wait to get back out there!

  6. Rachel January 21, 2014 at 4:53 am

    This is an extremely vain question but I just found your blog and I’m trying to find as much info before I have FAI surgery on my left hip. Did you find you had a very severe weight gain or loss of muscle during recovery? How long until you felt “normal” again? This surgery will take me out of work until I am healed completely so I’m trying to figure out what to expect. THANK YOU!!

  7. charlie February 20, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    I glad to see you’ve recovery well and are back at sport! Im 1 year post opt And still haven’t been about to return to martial arts , jiujitsu and Muay thai due to pain in both hips and constant stiffness in front of legs and lower back. Ive had recent MRIs and now showing a possible tear again in left and build up in the right I’ve blogged here about ithttp://1bushidolife.blogspot.com, both doctors at the rothman institue don’t low if ill ever be pain free or be able to return to sport. any and all comments welcomed

    • Paul February 20, 2014 at 3:59 pm

      Hi Charlie, it’s really hard to judge with this condition, as we are all different, have different damage or pain, plus we have different surgeons and different re-habs etc. I feel I have been very lucky so far, but I still get pain in my right on and off and like you am unsure if that pain is a permanent feature going forward. Also, even though I am back doing jiu jitsu, muay thai and boxing, I doubt I will be kicking in muay thai again, also who knows, I may get more issues soon that means I have to stop all together. The only thing I am aiming to do, is manage my pain as best as possible, so plenty of time warming up, plenty of stretching, foam rolling, massages etc. and change my martial arts to match my limitations. The only other thing I would say, is if I had been a year post op without being able to return to martial arts, I would be looking at other opinions, im not saying the people at rothman institute don’t know what they are doing, but it won’t harm you to ‘shop around’ if you like. After all it’s your health that is at stake. Hope this helps any? :)

  8. Karl.os March 17, 2014 at 8:58 am

    Hi Ashley. Sounds good you are on the road to total recovery. Good simple blog. I envy you. I liked your words of “spreading the word”. I am looking at a possibility of setting up a blog site with FAI in mind. It is missed diagnosed a lot and is very difficult to get to see the right person. I am no elite athlete but had rather deep hip sockets. I had a bilateral operation to fix the issue from 7 years back as I was on crutches for 6 years due to this. It also got that bad I blew a disc out due to the hips being so tight. Mine were the pincer type and I am a male 48 years now 41 when this happened. My recovery has been very slow due to the time of the hips being under stress. (now post op 9 months) But things are happening slowly. Maybe I should just set up a site for “FAI peoples” as I cannot find one that people can communicate to each other as it is a really difficult issue. Thanks for your site and your time. Good luck with your Iron Man. Cheers Karl

  9. Tim Greene July 28, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    Hi Ashley and fellow FAI veterans,

    It was a pleasant surprise to stumble across your blog! I am currently 4.5 years post op, and after a recent MRI, it was unfortunately discovered that I have developed premature osteoarthritis on the same hip.

    I was misdiagnosed for approximately 3 years – as an elite hockey player at the age of 17 I began having consistent, severe “groin injuries” and was subsequently treated for groin strains and sprains without seeing any improvement. After years of this treatment throughout my junior hockey career, I went on to play collegiate hockey, and once again consistently experienced hip and groin pain. In October 2009 I was finally diagnosed with FAI and scheduled my surgery for January 2010 (unfortunate wait times in Canadian healthcare).

    I did physiotherapy for approximately 3-4 months post-op and began strength training shortly thereafter. Once my range of motion returned to a satisfactorily level, I engaged in heavy weight lifting to get my lower body strength back to pre-op levels in anticipation of playing semi-professional hockey. I successfully began my semi-professional hockey career in September of 2011 and was pain free until this past January, 2014 – exactly 4 years from my surgery. As I began to go heavier and heavier in the gym while not allowing appropriate rest between hockey practices and games, I began noticing the pain once again. My range of motion has severely decreased. I am a victim of my own stupidity/work ethic. As I thought I was home free, my regular yoga practice (which did wonders for my hips) decreased and strength training increased. Being on the road every weekend (most often on the bus/plane without the best nutrition options), the pain came back worse than before.

    Over the past few months, I have once again increased my regular yoga practice, focus my strength training on moderate core oriented weight training, and am on a strict paleo/anti inflammatory diet. This combination has once again returned me to a pain free life in anticipation of a possible femoral head replacement (which will be confirmed within the next month). My advice to those dealing with FAI – do not get complacent with your recovery. I believe (especially for those runners) that a lifelong commitment to proactive maintenance is the best way to avoid re-injury.

    Good luck to everyone in their recovery!

    Tim

  10. Ashley September 26, 2015 at 1:31 am

    Hello,

    I am almost 4 months post hip labrum repair arthroscopic surgery, I had a pretty large labral tear, as well as CAM and Pincer FAI. I am a 23 year old female, who was averaging about 90 miles a week prior to my diagnosis. This whole process has been a challenge and battle. I have been going to PT since about 3 weeks post surgery. My PT advised me to begin jogging, which I have been for about 2 and a half weeks, as of last week I began to feel hamstring and hip flexor soreness, the hip flexor worries me due to proximity, and achiness. Has anyone who got this surgery and returned to running experienced something similar in the beginning stages? If you could share a bit about it it would help with some peace of mind. Thanks.

    • Jenna September 30, 2015 at 4:15 pm

      Hi! September 11th marked my 1 year anniversary since my arthroscopic surgery on my right hip. I had an extremely large labral tear which needed 2 anchors to hold it in place as well as CAM FAI. I was 29 when I got the surgery. I agree…the whole process was definitely one of the biggest challenges of my life! I wasn’t expecting it to be so difficult. My surgeon seems to be very cautious compared to others because he didn’t want me to try running until my 6 month mark. When I first started I had the same exact soreness that you are describing and it would sometimes last for days. I got very nervous because I did not want to mess anything up that was just fixed. My surgeon said that this is very common. Your muscles are still healing, not only from cutting through it, but from you not using them as rigorously as you did before. He said that if it doesn’t consistently get better and happen less as time goes on, then I should come back. Now at my 1 year mark, I can run 2-3 miles a day after a day of walking through Manhattan and I feel none or very little pain!! I’m sure I can run more but my other joints are not happy when I do that so I settle for a short run. Every once and a while the soreness comes back in those spots but it is mostly because my muscles in my right leg knot up more easily now. I recommend buying a foam roller. It has been my saving grace!! I found that if I stretch before the run and then stretch and roll afterwards, my muscles go a lot longer without pain. eventually, I didn’t have to roll after every single run. I try to roll out 2-3 times a week and get a massage every 2 months. It’s like I’m a different person! I hope this helps ease your mind! Everything you are feeling is totally normal but I do recommend taking it easy when you feel some pain/soreness. Take a day or two off from running before you start again. There is no reason to over-exert your hip while it’s healing. Not because you might have done something to mess it up but because healing is a process. You will get back to where you want to be soon enough! Good luck!!

      • ashley October 1, 2015 at 10:23 pm

        Thank you for your response it Def gives me some piece of mind. I’ve had some hip flexor discomfort for about a week now and it seems to be slowly going away. I wasn’t sure I it was starting to get tendonitis or what so I’ve been letting it rest. When you started running again do you remember feeling something like that in the hip flexor? I’m thinking it’s probably scar tissue but it is so discouraging. I’ve been lightly massaging and have been nervous to break out the foam roller but I will give that a go. I know alot of people have said they have had some hip flexor issues once everything gets back into action. I was feeling like I was almost in the clear ! I was wondering if maybe yiu could share some of what you encountered when you did start running again… I know for me so far the biking and elliptical were fine but a couple weeks into running and I feel like I’ve regressed or something.

  11. Morgan September 30, 2015 at 5:48 pm

    Hi Ashley!

    I am 22 and I have already had to surgeries on my right hip to fix my labral tears. 6 months after surgery, I am still not feeling great as I get back into training. The initial testing did not come out positive for FAI. My doctor recently sent me in for a new MRI to see if I have MRI, since my symptoms all point to that. Turns out that I do have it and I am scheduled for surgery in November. My question for you is did you have any hamstring pain before the surgery? A lot of the pain I am feeling is in the buttox/hamstring area. My doctor said that this can be caused by FAI. Did you have any experience this?

    Thanks!!

  12. Susan Elmendorf April 9, 2016 at 10:55 pm

    Hi Ashley,
    Your blogs have been very helpful for me to read thru. I am 51 years old, and started having slight left hip pain almost 2 years ago. My range of motion in both hips has continued to worsen and lateral hip movement is has become quite painful for me. A month ago I rode a mule on vacation and this was one of the most painful tasks for me, almost couldn’t get on the mule, along with getting in and out of cars. My tennis game is very compromised as well. It really got bad last August after hiking extensively which made me see my friend an orthopedic who specializes in knees. He took several x-rays and said I have osteoarthritis in both hips along with bone spurs. i had both hips injected in August, 2015 and again in January, 2016. I am now seeing a chiropractor who does active release and granston therapy on my hips and lower back. So frustrated, I used to be so active and enjoyed all the outdoor sports. Now, everything hurts, pain radiates down my left thigh and lower leg often, and even rolling over at night is uncomfortable. I go see a highly recommended hip specialist this week, been waiting 3 months to get in . I don’t want surgery, but I don’t want my life to be limited either. Often I feel a sharp pain in my groin with movement, questioning if I have a torn labrum. It is so frustrating to not be able to lift your legs laterally. I mainly just wanted to vent. I would welcome any advice.

    Susan, Leawood, KS