Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Do You Have Hip Pain?

Since 1995 I have been battling a constant pain deep in my left hip.  It's like a really bad toothache, and is present 24/7.  It doesn't cause me problems when I walk or do anything else active, but hurts the worst when I sit.  And wouldn't you know, I have a desk job....

Since 2000 I have been to 6 specialists, had 4 MRI's, a bone scan, injection directly into my hip joint, numerous x-rays and scores of other things.  I've been told the problem was in my back, and offered back surgery.  I've been told the problem is in my hip and there is nothing that can be done about it.  I have been offered injections into my back, I've been sent to a chiropractor. 

Two years ago I visited yet another specialist.  After two more MRI's I was sent home once again, with the assurance by my doctor that yes, there is something wrong, but he simply can't diagnose it.

The only good things about this all these years is that the pain is cut by nsaids - things like Tylenol, aspirin and Advil.  I generally take two per day, which, of couse, has now led to an ulcer. I'm very lucky, however, that I have never had to take anything stronger than an aspirin to help me get through the day.  There are so many addictions these days to prescription pain-killers that I vowed to never take even one.  And to their credit, none of the physicians that I visited offered prescriptions when I told them that nsaids did the trick.

A couple of months ago I decided to try the most well-respected sports injury/orthaepedic clinic in Oklahoma - thankfully it is only 15 minutes from my house.  This clinic has several locations in Oklahoma City and a very nice hospital in Edmond, and I don't know what took me so long to try it.  I did the usual x-ray and sat in the examining room to await the doctor.  He arrived, and after some pulling and prodding announced "I know what's wrong with you!"  I kind of thought it was a joke after 16 years, but - no!  He believes that I have a labral tear inside my hip joint.  This is a cuff of sorts inside the joint that, when it tears, will not heal. When a relatively young person has a hip problem, there is a good possibility that a labral tear could be involved.  It can tear by an injury or having an oddly-formed hip joint, and will cause major pain.  A few years ago doctors finally came up with a solution.  Even though this cuff can't heal, it can be put back together with pins, and if the problem was caused by an odd hip bone, the bone can be put right by a little shaving and texturing.  The surgery may be arthroscopic or not, depending on what needs to be done.  This is a relatively new surgery,  and I feel fortunate that I live very close to one of the few doctors that specialize in it.

I recently took the first step to do a final diagnosis - this was a steroid injection directly into the joint to see if there was any pain relief.  If so, the problem was definitely in the joint - if not, then a labral tear is not a possibility.  So far, so good - I received three days of 100% pain relief.  Now there will be an MRI, then the doctor and I will talk about what is needed. I'll keep you advised.

Here's what to remember - if you have chronic pain, please don't give up.  I can't guarantee that I will be pain free at some point, but at least now I have hope.  Sometimes it's just a matter of waiting and staying positive until the experts find a solution to your problem.

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