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#4 What to do, what to do?

Updated: Jan 8, 2020

I know better than to rely on internet research for making medical decisions, and I know to get second opinions whenever possible. So, if I have a labral tear in my hip, what can I do about it? I am fortunate to have friends and colleagues in the movement world who were able to both examine me, talk to me, and give me good referrals. I relied on my PT, Jill Esterson, to help me sort everything out.

Thus far I knew: labral tears cannot heal themselves; physical therapy (and somatic movement therapy) can help manage the pain of a labral tear by conditioning the muscles around the hip to help prevent joint irritation; in some situations a torn labrum can be surgically repaired or removed; in other situations a total hip replacement may be necessary.

Thus far the bodywork and exercise I was doing was enabling me to function very well during the day. Only professionals could tell that I had a hip problem. But at night, oh at night. It was becoming harder to sit to do computer work, my hip clicked painfully every time I got up, and I needed ibuprofen at bedtime so I could sleep without pain. My hip let me know at night how strenuous my activity had been that day, or how much I had been sitting.

The time had come for me to decide whether to continue with the pain management protocol I was doing, or consider surgery. Research I had read suggested that as someone over 60 with mild arthritis in both hips, I would not be a good candidate for labral tear repair. A second orthopedic doctor I consulted that Jill recommended explained it to me--if osteoarthritis is already present, then it is likely that within a short time after a labral tear repair surgery was performed. the joint would again be inflamed with arthritis and require total hip replacement. While total hip replacement is major surgery, labral tear repair surgery is no walk in the park, requiring a similarly long period of rehabilitation. It didn't make sense to do one major surgery only to be followed a couple of years later with another. So, that is why labral tear repair surgery had not been recommended in my case.

It came to this: Keep going as I have been going and wait as long as possible to replace my hip joint, or deal with it now?

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