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Archive for September, 2011

Here we are with Part 2 of the Surgery Series posts. Have you been dying to know what’s happened since the first post? Basically, I left you all saying I had been experiencing pain in my left hip that had begun to radiate into my inner thigh and down my left leg.

Luckily, two of my good friends at work are big-time athletes and have completed tons of races. They recommended I go see a doctor at at Serenity Health and Wellness who does a lot of work with endurance athletes. I went in with the idea that I had a stress fracture, but after a few simple diagnosis tests, he thought I had a labral tear in my left hip and would need to get an MRI arthrogram to confirm.

He performed a similar test to this one:

Yes, those movements HURT!

And what is a labral tear anyway? Let’s bring in some visuals to help us.

The head of the femur is supposed to fit perfectly into the hip joint (acetabulum). The labrum, the ring of soft tissue between the femur and the hip joint, acts as a sort of socket to hold the femur in place. Labral tears can occur from a variety of causes, mainly twisting or sudden changes of direction. So, this injury is common among soccer, basketball, hockey and football players. My all-star soccer days are behind me. However, labral tears can also be the cause of structural abnormalities where the femur doesn’t fit into the hip joint properly, in which case wear and tear can accelerate a labral tear.

Off to Northwestern Orthopaedic Institute I went to meet with a surgeon who happened to be a fellow Notre Dame and Indiana University grad! I knew he would be smart 😉 The MRI arthrogram was one of the most painful experiences I’ve had. I had no idea I would be so much pain from the procedure. The purpose of an MRI arthrogram is to pinpoint the location of and confirm whether or not there is a labral tear.

The arthrogram portion of the procedure involves a special X-ray exam of the hip joint. A contrast dye is injected into the joint (with HUGE) needles. This was the painful part. We are talking a 3.5 inch needle ALL THE WAY TO YOUR JOINT. Then I was injected with some numbing medicine to give me some relief. (I was sore for a good week after this procedure.) After the dye was injected, I was off to the MRI. I was put in a tunnel that was as loud as a jackhammer for 45 minutes. Very peaceful. An MRI uses radio waves and a strong magnetic field to capture clear and detailed pictures of my hip joint. So, if the dye clustered in one location in my labrum, it would show up on the MRI results and would indicate that is where the tear is.

A few days later it was confirmed, I have a labral tear. Bummer. I discussed the results with my doctor and discovered that I do have a slight structural abnormality in my hip alignment, so no one specific movement caused the tear. It’s highly likely that because I have a structural abnormality and had trained for seven months straight for two half marathons, my labrum wore down more quickly and resulted in a tear.

Seven months later, I am still dealing with the pain and am awaiting surgery. It’s the final countdown…9 days to surgery.

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Have you suffered an injury from training? What was it and what did you do in terms of recovery?

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