I recently saw another specialist for a second opinion on my hip. I am so glad I did because I now feel confident I know the full story. It turns out the underlying cause for the pain in my hip is hip dysplasia. I’ve had it since birth, and apparently some 10-15% of the population also has it. Many people lead perfectly normal and active lives with hip dysplasia, but it can lead to complications down the road.
Basically my pelvic bone, which forms a socket around the ball of my hip, does not cover it completely. They measure an angle form the center of the ball to where the bone starts covering it up, and that angle should be 25 degrees or more. On me it is 11 degrees. So I’m quite dysplastic (if that’s a word). The upshot is that my labrum (the cartilage around my hip) is quite big, and easily torn, which explains the diagnosis I got from my MRI. Also, the muscles around my hip have to work on over-drive to keep my hip in place at all times. Apparently this also explains why I am so flexible. Ballerinas and gymnasts commonly have this deformity.
Moving forward, it was suggested that I get a cortisone shot into my hip joint. That’s happening today. This will knock out any lingering inflammation from my last thru-hike. There is a surgery to fix hip dysplasia, but it involves breaking your pelvic bone in three places and putting it back together again. It also would mean not walking for 3 months. The doctor was optimistic that since I hiked the Appalachian Trail 5 years ago without any symptoms, I would likely be able to continue on with my life without the surgery. I could get a flare up now and again. I am likely, however, to need hip replacement surgery when I am older since I am at higher risk of arthritis and other hip problems. The hip dysplasia surgery is also called hip preservation surgery, because with the hip dysplasia fixed, the hip is less at risk for future problems.
So basically, if the cortisone shot wonders for me (which I’m hoping will be the case), then no surgery for me! If symptoms return, I may consider the hip preservation surgery, but not before I get a third, forth and maybe even fifth opinion. I’m not having some surgeon breaking my pelvis in three places just for fun!