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#3 The Mystery of Right-Side Only Pain

My Primary Care Doc Has an Idea, December 2017

I was humming along with my new routine of Ass-Kicking Workouts, along with my other exercise habits, plus the Cucum-Evail, Epsom salt baths, and ibuprofen or naproxen as needed. But one thing kept niggling at my brain. If the xray showed the same amount of arthritis in both hips, then why was it only my right side that still sometimes had that orchestra of pain at night?

My Primary Care Doc Dr. Cooney suggested I consult with an orthopedic surgeon, who could order an MRI that would show the soft tissue, and maybe get to the bottom of it. I did, and the MRI simply confirmed what the xray showed. The ortho surgeon offered nothing new, and showed no interest in the question of the right/left difference, so I didn’t go back to him.

I reported this back to my Dr. Cooney, who after hearing about my symptoms once again, said, “It sounds like a labral tear.” Briefly, the labrum of the hip joint is a ring of cartilage attached to the hip socket that helps secure the hip joint and provide some cushioning from stress to the joint. It can become worn or traumatized and tear a bit, resulting in reduced stability and pain. It can happen to athletes and dancers, or anyone who pounds the joints, has congenital weakness, or a traumatic hip injury.

It so happened that I knew what that was, having recently done a Pilates workshop on just that subject. I went back to my notes and to the Internet, and labral tear did indeed seem to fit what I was experiencing. But it should have showed up on the MRI. (Months later I learned from my surgeon that for some reason the technician for my first MRI stopped “taking pictures” at just the point where a labral tear would show up. But at the time, I didn’t know.)

Based on the hunch of my primary care doc and my own research, I consulted other hip professionals with the idea that I might have a labral tear in my right hip joint that was causing my right-side only hip and leg pain at night.

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