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!
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!