From FAI Surgery to 475lbs Squat in 12 Weeks

What is your story about?
At age 27 I underwent surgery to correct cam-type FAI as well as a substantial labral tear. The surgery was smooth but the recovery was long and difficult. Ultimately, I was able to make a successful comeback and squat 475lbs within 12 weeks.
What symptoms did you experience and how did they progress over time?
I was diagnosed with what's known as femoroacetabular impingement. Basically my femur had a little extra piece of bone that stuck out and rubbed on the labrum during hip flexion. I never had hip pain before and I love squatting so I used to do it as often as possible. Little did I know I was slowly fraying away the labrum until it finally tore a bit and started bothering me. I stupidly ignored this pain, which began first as a minor twinge at end range hip flexion, until it culminated with a searing pain that ran through the entire left glute and hamstring with literally any degree of hip fl ...(more)
What was the diagnosis process like?
I didn't even know what FAI was until I spoke with the surgeon. However, the symptoms I had matched the general symptoms of a labral tear, which allowed me to steer myself in the right direction.
How did you decide to undergo surgery?
I have big aspirations as a powerlifter and I couldn't lift weights anymore. That was the primary factor that drove me to get the surgery. This is completely discounting the fact that every basic activity in daily life also hurt like hell though. I mean I couldn't run anymore. I couldn't lean on the left leg, couldn't stoop down, had to alter my walking gait, etc. I was too far gone to not have the surgery by the time I finally got around to it. I also selected a surgeon who works with athletes all the time. As for the surgery itself, they shaved extra bone off the femur. My surgeon was able ...(more)
What was recovery like?
Going into the surgery, I didn't quite have a full understanding of what I was getting myself into. You can read it about it all you want but the seriousness of the recovery process always seems to be downplayed. It's a long arduous road of "be much more careful than you think you need to be at all times or tomorrow you'll sure know you fucked up." The recovery sure was a drag. However, the minute I could bear weight on the leg again it was clear to me that the surgery had been successful. All of the pain I had prior to the surgery was gone and has not re-surfaced. Now, I did awaken from the ...(more)
Did you follow any pre- or post-surgery rehab protocols?
I didn't do anything pre-surgery, but I went through a whole rehab protocol after the surgery. I found that the stability exercises (i.e lunges done on an unstable surfce, standing on one leg on an unstable surface, half squats on a bosu ball, etc.) really seemed to help it feel stronger again. I really liked those. Stretching the hip flexor from a half kneeling position is also immensely helpful and doing bridges afterward to make sure the glutes are firing is good as well. I also like warming up on the stationary bike beforehand. I've kept many of these rehab exercises in my warm up protocol ...(more)
What did the surgery cost?
It maxed out my health insurance for the year. At the time, my maximum yearly responsibility was $2,500. I saw the hospital bill later and it was approximately $45,000. So the surgery cost me $2,500.
Have you been able to make a full return to sport?
My only real issue at this point is some residual stiffness in the front of the hip and a little bit pain there if I let it get really stiff. I don't really have any issues with hip mobility or lower back mobility but I do make sure not to squat too deep. I basically cut all my reps right around parallel. Although I can squat pretty much ass to grass again like I could pre-surgery, I just don't plan to squat that deep with weights anymore. I think if you do your rehab right and you're careful and always warm up thoroughly, then there's no reason you shouldn't be able to squat again.
Overall, would you recommend this surgery?
The recovery from this surgery is no cakewalk. I wouldn't do it unless it was absolutely necessary personally. I can point to 3 times where I clearly made the tear worse over the course of having initiated the tear. Each time led to more pain during more activities. If the things you like to do aren't currently hampered by the pain, and you always exercise caution and warm up very thoroughly, I would imagine you could get by with a more conservative regimen so as long as you don't exacerbate the tear. Even though I didn't know what I was getting myself into at the time, I still would do it be ...(more)
What advice would you give others with your condition?
In terms of return to sport, just make sure you take things slow, whatever your activity of choice is.