FAI and Severe Hip Labral Tear from Intense Athletics

What is your story about?
I had FAI in both hips, and I tore one labrum playing football and the other playing rugby. It got to the point where I couldn't put on my socks or get into a car without a decent amount of pain. I had one of the worst possible cases. I second guessed myself a lot before surgery, but afterwards, I don't regret it at all. The main reason I elected to get the surgery was pretty much to improve ROM. I really just wanted to be able to get back to powerlifting with a good ROM.
When did you first notice symptoms?
I had FAI in both hips, and I tore one labrum playing football and the other playing rugby. My tear started out really small and I didn't even think it was anything to worry about, just thought it was a little strain. I remember each game after I tore one I felt a slight little pain in my hip but I don't even remember what specifically tore it. In football and rugby limbs can get bent in weird ways, also they teach you to contact really low so you lower your center of mass and it's harder to knock you over. All that while trying to keep my back straight was probably pinching that labrum over a ...(more)
How did your symptoms progress over time?
I didn't really pay attention to it since it didn't make me weaker or anything, but I continued to lift and then run track, and then kept lifting. My second home was the squat rack and I absolutely destroyed my labrums. It really started to get bad between football and spring track, during which I did a lot of leg lifting (squats, dead lifts, leg press, cleans, pretty much everything). Since I was part of the school powerlifting team I would naturally go really low when I squatted because if your hips don't sink below your knees they disqualify the lift during competitions. I didn't notice ...(more)
What was the diagnosis process like?
A personal trainer, physical therapist and physician all misdiagnosed it as a hip flexor strain. I let it go on for almost half a year until I couldn't squat without excruciating pain, and then I finally got the MRI to find out my labrums were shredded, bruised, and almost completely detached. There were multiple large tears on each labrum.
How did you decide to pursue surgery?
I had good and bad stretches toward the beginning of the injury, but in the days leading up to surgery it was pretty constantly bad (I wasn't treating it very well though). I had two options: get surgery, or deal with it for the rest of my life. Some people may say "oh go to a physical therapist for conservative treatment," but in reality that doesn't really work for people doing a sport. The problem is, if you keep doing sports, that impingement will literally be crushing the labrum between itself and your hip socket. No physical therapy can give you more ROM because it's literally bone runni ...(more)
When did you get surgery?
Just got surgery on my right hip a month ago, I'm doing the left in June.
How did you select the right surgeon?
I actually found a great surgeon - Denver Nuggets team surgeon and he performs over 400 surgeries per year. He specializes in this surgery alone and performs 11+ per week year round. He used a cadaver IT band to reconstruct new labrums. I was fortunate to get my operation done by one of the best hip surgeons in the country. If you really love your sport, I would recommend getting the surgery with a good doctor.
What was the surgery like?
My labrums were completely destroyed and my surgery took around 5 hours. The labrums were in no condition to be repaired, and I had new ones reconstructed with donor tissue. I saw the before and after X-rays and my femoral head is much more concave - there's a lot more room to go up and I just need to wait until the surrounding tissue and the bone surface and nerves are fully healed.
How has your recovery been?
I'm already walking after the first one and feeling better than I expected at this point (about a month out). I can't say yet that my flexibility has improved, because it hasn't been long enough to tell. Because of capsular hypertrophy (swelling of the joint capsule) the pain-free ROM will be severely limited right after surgery (this is totally normal though). After about a month, I can almost go to where I could before and then I hit a pretty decent amount of pain. It just takes time to heal and everything in the area is going to be really sensitive. Ideally, by six months I (or anyone who ...(more)
What advice do you have for someone in this situation?
Don't do anything that replicates the pain even slightly. That's essentially what I did and now I regret it. Also if you're concerned about a potential labral tear, get an MRI ASAP so you can know for sure. If you don't want to undergo surgery, you should preserve your labrums and cartilage at all costs, otherwise you will be dealing with that pain for the rest of your life, and hip arthritis will onset very early compared to the average person. A lot of people who continue intensive sport with bad impingements and badly torn labrums and let it go untreated end up getting full hip replaceme ...(more)
Overall, would you recommend this surgery?
I've seen stuff on the internet advising for or against this operation, and I've seen success stories and unsatisfactory stories, and everything in between. But I had one of the worst possible cases, and now the hip that got operated on is feeling good. I second guessed myself a lot before surgery, but afterwards, I don't regret it at all. It's minimally invasive, recovery is relatively painless, and I can't wait for the other one so I can finally have two great, working, mobile hips!