My Hip Injury

I thought I’d share news on my hip, since so many people have asked for an update. I hiked most of the Pacific Crest Trail with pain in my hip, which in retrospect was probably not the smartest thing I’ve ever done.

Doing any kind of extreme endurance sport requires a certain amount of stubbornness, and we learn to put up with a certain amount of pain, which is part of what you sign up for. I’ll never forget a phone call I got from my mother several hundred miles into my Appalachian Trail thru-hike. “You must feel amazing, and in the best shape of your life.” She said. “I hurt basically all over,” was my reply.

Many hikers are familiar with “hiker hobble,” the strange gait that hikers acquire when they stroll around town or campsites due to various foot and leg pain. It’s comical because after an hour of rest, you would think by the way most hikers start limping around that they couldn’t conceivably walk more than a mile or two the next day. Yet they’ll be easily doing 20-30 milers day in and day out.

So, basically it’s tough for hikers to tell an injury from every-day pain. And even harder to tell a serious injury form one that just needs a couple weeks of rest. In my case, I looked back in my journal and found that on day 1 I complained about pain in my right hip. Not a good sign. But I wasn’t in pain for the whole hike. It definitely progressed and got worse and worse with the miles, and particularly bad when I stopped for a day.

Finally after the hike was over, I decided the best course of action was to rest for several months and hope that my injury would disappear on its own. It really never did. Even after two or three months, I couldn’t walk more than a mile or two without pain, and I would have pain at night too. Finally, I decided it was time to see an orthopedic surgeon. The post-trail depression was setting in because of lack of exercise and I was going bonkers.

A few weeks later, after an inconclusive initial visit with the surgeon, I found myself in the hospital having an MRI. The results stated “probable subtle partial tear of the anterior superior labrum”. So basically there is probably a small tear in the cartilage around my hip socket. Unfortunately the prognosis isn’t clear. No one remedy seems to solve this problem, but you can start with physical therapy, and anti-inflammatory medications. If that doesn’t work, they can inject your joint with an anti-inflammatory which sometimes does the trick. Last of all, if everything else has failed, you can try arthroscopic surgery, where they simply scrape away flapping bits of cartilage. Surgery usually doesn’t help much, and is quite invasive. The surgeon didn’t recommend it (and if a surgeon doesn’t recommend surgery, that must really mean it’s a crap-shot, since usually they’re ready to jump on just about anything with a scalpel in hand)

The good news is that slowly, on its own, it seems like my hip is trying to heal. I don’t have as much pain as I did a few months ago, and I hardly ever have pain at night. I started physical therapy a week ago, and I’ve been very diligent about doing it. I also have an anti-inflammatory creme that I apply to my hip several times a day. I have high hopes that I will slowly heal, but I do worry quite a bit about this injury. Am I going to be able to hike 20-30 mile days again? Is my age catching up with me? Will I forevermore be plagued with injuries? How would a “real” athlete deal with a problem like this?


12 thoughts on “My Hip Injury

  1. Hello again Just2Hikers. Can you send me your email. I am trying another program called Day One and it uses emails for posting my journal.


  2. Hi: we met approaching Stevens Pass

    I had inflammation problems a few years ago, which responded to nothing until I had a steroid injection. The problem cleared right up and has not re-occured. I would recommended it to you if inflammation is the issue.


    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sorry for all your going through Dormouse…At age 50, I’m always complaining about getting old yet I’m hoping I still got a ways to go. I occasionally run into older people on the trail and it just crazy to think I can just keep on going, but some of these folks are sometimes in there 60’s and 70’s, and yes, even 83. They may not be doing big miles, but there still out there and they are such an inspiration to others as well as myself. I guess what I’m getting at is, we both got quite a few miles left. And you just happen to have a lot more then me. We just gotta learn to listen to our pains even when our stubborn minds say keep hiking. Give it some time and You got this….
    Just Bruce..

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Oh man! Rough stuff.

    On the FT we were about five days in and I did something to my hip one day that really had me thinking we were done for. Luckily it worked itself out in the next day or two, but I can’t even imagine.

    Oh, the pain of hiker hobble. It was probably three or four months post AT that I could bend down without my knees being in excruciating pain.

    Hope you heal fast and are out and about soon!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Doormouse, sorry to hear about the continued hip pain. Hope you don’t go stir crazy while it is healing. When you are used to s lot of activity it is hard to rest. Ask your therapist about the possibility of swimming or pool walking. These, done at a reasonable pace, can help in injury recovery. The water takes the weight stress factor out and because it is cool, helps with inflammation. On the AT I had an iris of some sort at the base oft shin. After an MRI I was told to take off a week or risk a stress fracture. The best thing that helped get rid of the inflation was icing it and then standing in cold streams when I resumed hiking. Thanks for your inspiration and insights on the PCT. We will be starting our hike May 2nd. We are so anxious to get hiking and out of our PA winter. Take care

      Liked by 3 people

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