FAI (Femoroacetabular Impingement) Surgery Three-Week Post-op Update

Hi everyone! I hope you’re doing well. It’s been a busy, busy last few weeks for our family. I had planned to post a one-week follow-up post and then I wanted to post a two-week follow-up post and then my sister had a baby and I am back at work, so now we are at a three-week follow-up post! Better late than never right? Before we get into all of this though, I have to share a photo of my new niece. Isn’t she precious?!

FAI Surgery Three-Week Post-op- fitnessisdelicious.com

OK, ok, let’s get to it!

Some Background

So for those of you who are new to my blog or don’t know what the heck FAI is, let me start from the beginning. About four years ago I started having hip pain in and around my left hip. The pain started in October- I remember the month because it was one week after I ran the Chicago Marathon (and I had just completed the Muncie, IN 70.3 Half Ironman that July).

I had a hip-joint x-ray and at first, it was diagnosed as hip bursitis and then a host of other things before correctly being diagnosed as FAI, or Femoroacetabular Impingement (say that five times fast). After almost two years of physical therapy, I finally pushed to have an MRI done. I had not had one done because every physician and physical therapist told me again and again that there was no tear or muscular/ligament damage; making an MRI wasteful and unnecessary . The MRI showed a frayed labrum which was caused by the FAI. To learn more about what FAI is, check out this blog post I wrote after my first surgery.

I was then referred to an Orthopedic surgeon in the Greenwood/Indianapolis area that specialized in hips- specifically in femoroplasty (reshaping the head of the femur) and also labral repair (repairing the labrum). Lucky for me, he is one of the best hip surgeons in the country and he speaks at conferences and meetings, sharing information on FAI and various surgical procedures for other Orthopedic surgeons.  His name is Dr. Peter Maiers and I would HIGHLY recommend him if you are anywhere near the Indianapolis or Bloomington area. He did his fellowship under a physician in Tennessee who was one of the first to pioneer this procedure.

Long story short, the surgery was a success and I am now two years post-op. I’ve written a lot about my recovery and even shared some fitness tips and exercises to do after surgery to re-gain strength and to get myself (and hopefully others) back at their normal routine. This was my first recovery post where I share thoughts about the surgery and how it went in the days and weeks after. And finally, I even wrote a post about my recovery at 18 months post-op, here.

Let me make a quick note: If you are someone living with FAI or have just had (or are about to have) this surgery, please read these posts before contacting me. I LOVE to hear from you and am more than happy to give advice or insight, but I receive many emails and comments that are already answered in the blog posts and/or comments. Thank you!

At the time of the first surgery, my right hip had started hurting. Dreading what I knew was coming, I went ahead and asked for an x-ray of my right hip as well as an MRI. Confirming what I already knew, Dr. Maiers told me that  I had FAI in my right hip also. He said that about 40%-50% of people have FAI in both hips, but that some people never present symptoms in one of the hips. Dr. Maiers said that he could repair both at once, but I was not at all interested in being in a wheelchair for weeks at a time and then also not knowing how my body would recover from one hip surgery, let alone two. I decided to wait on the second hip surgery until I absolutely needed to have it- or until I was fully recovered from the first.

The Second Hip

Well, the time came this year when my right hip started hurting. For me, the pain was localized to just the hip bone- right near where your  “love handles” would be if you had them. With the left hip, I had problems with my hip locking after I would sit for any amount of time. If I were to workout and then sit down or even drive to work in the morning, I would stand up and it felt like my leg would give out. I couldn’t put weight on it for a few steps. With the right hip, the pain wasn’t nearly as bad. It would hurt me after a long bike or running workout or after a race, but in general, it was overall ok. Still, knowing the underlying cause was the FAI and knowing that it would not heal itself, I decided that this summer would be the best time for the second surgery.

I had heard that Dr. Maiers was now seeing patients at the Bloomington Bone and Joint clinic in Bloomington which made me super happy. I now didn’t have to drive up to Indy for my appointments or for the surgery! He works out of Bloomington Bone and Joint one day a week and does surgery one day a week down here too. I scheduled my appointment with him and mentioned that my symptoms were fairly the same as the last hip- I felt like an old pro this time around. He ordered an MRI just to confirm what we already knew and within a few weeks I had scheduled the second surgery.

Prepping for FAI Surgery

A few things were very different for me this time around than during my first surgery. For starters, I wasn’t nearly as scared as I was for the first hip. The last time I had this surgery I had never even broken a bone or had stitches- let alone go under anesthesia for two hours while they cut, sliced and attached things in my hip. This time around I knew exactly what the procedure entailed, what they were doing to my hip socket and I felt like I had a pretty good relationship with my doc.

Also, prior to the last surgery I had no reference point as to what my recovery would look like. The physician told me I would be on crutches for about two weeks, I would probably be able to swim at four weeks and then I could walk/run at eight to 12 weeks. But, post-surgery, I didn’t know when or if I should sit, stretch, move, walk, etc.- I was fairly blind to what the protocol was post-op. This time around I knew that I should move more, even if it was on my crutches. I knew I should drink a lot of water, take stool softeners, move a plastic chair into my shower, sleep on the couch for a week so I didn’t have to use stairs as frequently, sleep on my back and plan to do a whole lot of nothing for the first week.

Lastly, prior to the last surgery I wasn’t eating a Paleo based diet. Sure, I thought I was eating healthy, but I was still consuming foods that were inflammatory in nature. Things like crackers, sprite, processed soup, ice cream and popsicles were the foods that helped me recover. I still ate salads, fruit, veggies and meat, but I wasn’t solely focused on reducing inflammation and allowing my body to heal properly with the correct supplements and mix of food.

This time around, I started a Whole30 two days prior to surgery with the intent on reducing as much inflammation as possible and not giving my body anything extra that would give it a hard time processing. Some people said I was crazy for doing this, but it was the best decision I made. I was able to prep and freeze a few Whole30 compliant meals prior to surgery and I had a supply of fresh fruit, baby food, prune juice, homemade soups and other meals made by Wil. If you don’t know what a Whole30 is, check it out here.

Here are a few photos of what my meals looked like during my recovery and while doing a Whole30:

FAI Surgery Three-Week Post-op Update- Fitnessisdelicious.com

FAI Surgery Three-Week Post-op Update- Fitnessisdelicious.com

FAI Surgery Three-Week Post-op Update- Fitnessisdelicious.com

FAI Surgery Three-Week Post-op Update- Fitnessisdelicious.com

FAI Surgery Three-Week Post-op Update- Fitnessisdelicious.com

FAI Surgery Three-Week Post-op Update- Fitnessisdelicious.com

FAI Surgery Three-Week Post-op Update- Fitnessisdelicious.com

FAI Surgery Three-Week Post-op Update- Fitnessisdelicious.com

Surgery

This surgery was out-patient, meaning that I was able to go home once I felt well enough to move to the car (a few hours). I was a little anxious the morning of the surgery and I felt a little rushed. Originally the surgery was scheduled for 3pm that day, but the nurse called me at 10am and asked if I could be there in an hour! I said yes (let’s get this over with asap!) and my mom took me in. The nursing staff was so kind and I really appreciated everyone who attended to me before and after- Thank you to Indiana Speciality Surgery Center!

FAI Surgery Three-Week Post-op Update- Fitnessisdelicious.com

We got home and I immediately got comfy on the couch with the Ice Man- the little cooler that has a pad which attaches to your hip to keep it cool at all times. I started taking my meds on the schedule I was supposed to and made sure to take stool softeners and drink lots of water to keep my digestion moving. I supplemented with L-Glutamine and  Pure Pharma’s vitamin packs that contain Fish Oil, Vitamin D and Magnesium. I highly recommend Pure Pharma’s supplements if you haven’t tried them!

FAI Surgery Three-Week Post-op Update- Fitnessisdelicious.com

FAI Surgery Three-Week Post-op Update- Fitnessisdelicious.com

My physician does the surgery a little differently now making the hip a bit more stable early on. This was good news for me, as I was able to stand and put some weight on it within the first few days. The first five days I pretty much ate, slept, iced and did the small exercises they gave me- ankle pumps, glute activation and quad activation. I also used a 20 pound weight to do some overhead presses and dumbbell curls just to get my upper body moving. I also would walk for just five minutes each day to get my blood flowing.

FAI Surgery Three-Week Post-op Update- Fitnessisdelicious.com

On day five I had my first PT appointment which included mostly the exercises I had been doing with the addition of clam shells, heel slides and marching my leg while lying down. Each PT protocol is different and this time around I only go once a week and to do the exercises on my own on the other days.

FAI Surgery Three-Week Post-op Update- Fitnessisdelicious.com

Overall my recovery has been pretty similar and I know my body has responded better. I do feel less pain in my groin and hip flexor (although they’re still very sore) which was something that lasted a very long time with my first surgery. I do have some numbness on the outside of my right quad which the physician said is normal – they sometimes hit a sensory nerve during surgery and I should get my feeling back eventually. I didn’t have this with my first surgery, but I’m not concerned about it. I definitely wasn’t as swollen or retaining water like I did for the first surgery and I didn’t have nearly the digestion issues either.

Moving Forward

I am stretching more and am back in the gym doing upper body workouts that include pull-ups, incline bench press, overhead press, push-ups, rows and more. I finally ditched the crutches this past weekend so when I was two weeks and a few days post-op. I can ride the stationary bike for 15 minutes with minimal resistance and I can start swimming next week (my 4th week post-op). Wil and I were even able to workout together last week (2 weeks post-op) which is rare!

FAI Surgery Three-Week Post-op Update- Fitnessisdelicious.com

Although the road to recovery is long and takes much patience, I am thankful for how my body is recovering and what I am able to do. I will post another recap after my next appointment which will be either six or seven weeks post-op. Thank you for all of the support I have received via social media and on this blog. I hope this information is helpful to someone out there prepping or recovering from FAI surgery. In the meantime, Stay Fit & Eat Delicious!

 

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Comments: 5

  1. Ali July 21, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    Great to hear your progressing well. Your blog is fantastic keep up the good work.

    Just wondering what specific stretches & release work did you find helpful?

    Ali

    • Ashley Fleming July 21, 2014 at 8:15 pm

      Thank you Ali- I appreciate the kind words! You can check out my post specifically regarding strength training, but in terms of stretching I focused on stretching my glutes, hamstrings, quads,hip flexors and calves. The PT gave me examples of stretches I could do and also I have done what feels right. I went to yoga 4 weeks post-op after the last surgery and I hope to go within the next week or two, this time around :)

      Best,
      Ashley

  2. Amy November 4, 2014 at 1:37 am

    I am so glad to have found your post. I am a 45 year old mom of 4 who used to be active. In the past 5 years I’ve had my shoulder labrum repaired, my lateral ligaments in my ankle repaired, and I have suffered with SI joint pain, groin or psoas pain, an major hip pain. And in the last few months neck pain. I’ve had clerical spine MRI, lumbar MRI and I’m scheduled for MRA for suspicion of labral tear or impingement. Oh, and I’m scheduled for SI joint injections. The injection in my hip joint didn’t help my psoas, but eventually my lower back stopped spasming. Now that it’s worn off, I can’t do anything. If it’s a tear, I want the surgery so I can finally get back to exercise before I’m too old! I’m sort of paleo and have read the whole30, and will commit to it ASAP to get inflamation down. Thanks again!

  3. Laurel October 4, 2015 at 5:15 pm

    THANK YOU!!

    Loved stumbling across this website!! I had the FAI surgery a week ago, and am cleared for upper body workouts. Was not sure where to begin, so am excited to implement some of the exercises you mention.
    However, none of the original pictures you posted are still there. Is that intentional, or has the link expired or?

    Would love to see your form, to make sure what I think you have written is the move I am thinking it is…….

    Thank you again, and if you get a moment, would love to see the photos too!
    Laurel

    • Ashley Fleming October 26, 2015 at 12:26 am

      Hi Laurel,
      My blog was hacked months ago which is why the images don’t show up. If you read the text, there should be some explanation as to what movements they are. Also, if you scroll through the comments on this post, I listed the exercises.

      Best,
      Ashley