For over 2 years, I have dealt with abnormal groin pain and discomfort in doing the activities I love the most; playing hockey and exercising. Psychologically, I went through several ups and downs in trying to figure out what exactly was wrong with my body. Pelvic pain while playing hockey and sharp, radiating groin pains after a solid leg day at the gym. My initial concern was the possibility of sustaining a hernia injury, which was ruled out after an MRI of my pelvis. What the MRI did show was the presence of marrow edema and osteitis pubis. The Orthopedist, at the time, suggested these conditions were a result of a series overuse injuries and a minor labral tear in my left hip. His recommendation was to undergo physical therapy and rest which I proceeded to follow for several months.
The timing of this could not be any worse as I had just been presented the opportunity to coach Division I hockey with Bemidji State University Beavers. Having to be on the ice everyday certainly did not help the cause and physical therapy only helped the symptoms mildly. Over the course of several months, I learned how to manage my symptoms with physical therapy, yoga and orthopedic massage. Improving my movement patterns and addressing soft tissue damage helped immensely. The root of the problem, however, was still present and a bi lateral hip MRI clearly confirmed that I had a condition known as FAI (femoroacetabular impingement) which ultimately caused the labrum in my left hip to tear. In FAI, bone spurs develop around the femoral head and/or along the acetabulum which can result in tearing of the labrum over time. After thorough research and multiple opinions from medical professionals, I decided to proceed with FAI surgery. Here is my story.
The following is a daily journal of my road to recovery.
The surgery was a very quick and painless process. The procedure itself only took 45 minutes and I was put under anasthetic for the duration. When I woke up, I was a bit dizzy and groggy but did not really feel much pain. The nurses sent me home with crutches and prescriptions for Ibuprofein and Oxycod/APAP. The Doctor recommended to take the prescribed pain medication around dinner time to allow enough time for it to kick in before the anasthetic wore off. I ate normally and drank lots of water to refuel and was able to urinate under normal circumstances but did feel constipated. In addition to the anasthetic, they also put a nerve block in my hip which caused my entire leg to be numb. I fell down the first time I went to the bathroom from not being able to feel anything in my leg at all. The Game Ready Ice Machine is great and makes my hip feel so much better keeping it nice and cool. Falling to sleep was easy and painless.
My hip was a little sore waking up and my leg is still numb. I am still constipated but otherwise feel pretty good. I am spending most of the day icing my hip with the Game Ready Machine and staying regular with my pain medication. Pain is pretty moderate and as the day goes on I am starting to get the feeling back in my left leg as the nerve block wears off. Still moving around on crutches.
I am amazed at how good I feel already on just Day 2. I can feel my left leg again and am able to move around much better. I started the morning by taking off my bandages and was surprised to see the Doctor only made 2 small incisions and bruising was pretty minimal. I am able to stand and put weight on my left leg already taking small steps. I was able to shower normally and get around pretty comfortably with crutches even a little bit of walking.
Woke up in the morning with a little soreness but not too bad. The bruising was a little more evident with little more purple/blue around the front of my hip near the incisions. Feeling more comfortable walking and getting around. I decided to reduce the pain medication today to avoid dependancy but keeping the ibuprofein dose the same to address inflammation. Doing ankle pumps and flexing surrounding leg muscles is recommended to initiate therapy. Was able to go to work today with just a cane.
Bruising is taking color but the pain is decreasing. I feel better today than I did yesterday as walking around is even easier. Am feeling closer to normal going to the bathroom and doing things for myself. My post op appointment is on Monday (Day 6) and will most likely start physical therapy to start working on range of motion.
Post Op 1
No longer use crutches or cane. Stitches were taken out and was cleared for moderate activity; bike and elliptical.
Physical Therapy Begins
First day of Physical Therapy. Range of motion is still limited. Was only able to do the hamstring stretch, piriformis stretch is still inhibited. Session included:
- Heat pad 10 minutes
- Supine Hamstring Stretch
- Supine Piriformis Stretch (inhibited)
- 10 minute light bike ride
- 12 minute Ice and Stim
Frequency of PT increased to 2 times per week. More exercises and activity are added each session. Hamstring flexibility has increased and am now able to effectively stretch my piriformis without inhibition. Soreness has decreased, am now walking around normal without pain and minimal limping.
- Heat pad 10 minutes
- Supine Hamstring Stretch 3 x 30 seconds
- Supine Piriformis Stretch 3 x 30 seconds (no longer inhibited)
- 10 minute light bike ride
- Supine 1 legged press 4 x 60 seconds each leg
- 1 legged stair master 5 minutes rehab leg only
- 1 legged balance on Airex pad 3 x 30 seconds each leg
- 5 minute elliptical
- Lateral band walks (ankle) 3 x 15 yards
- Val Slides 3 x 10 rehab leg only
Soreness and pain are decreasing while range of motion is slowly increasing. Walking is starting to feel more normal with the exception of extension being hindered.
Same Exercises as last week with 2 added movements:
- Swiss Ball Tuck and Rolls 3 x 10
- Hurdles - Forward + Backward + Lateral
Week 4 - 6
The program has stayed pretty much the same the next couple of weeks. The main aspect to focus on during this phase of the recovery period is to get range of motion back to 100%. The pain and symptoms have subsided by now so before building strength, it is important to make sure that you are moving correctly. The incision spots are still sore from scar tissue from what I am told. Any hip flexion movement induces some mild discomfort but no severe pain. Mild groin soreness comes and goes pending my activity level. Overall, it is feeling much better and definitiely less painful than before which is pretty amazing only a few weeks after the operation.
Week 6 - 16
I have decided to try a treatment plan which involves using an ArpWave (Accelerated Recovery Performance) neuro therapy device as it was recommended by a friend still playing professional hockey in the DEL. I watched this athlete use it in my gym for a whole Summer for his performance training and witnessed some pretty extraordinary results. He had shared that several professional athletes he knew were using the device to treat injuries and improve performance with nothing but raving reviews and results. After trying just about everything else, I decided to give ArpWave a shot. Here is a video of my squat only 10 weeks after surgery and 4 weeks using the ArpWave RX100 for recovery and neuro therapy.
The other aspect to note after 4 weeks of using the ArpWave is fat loss. For the past few years, my average weight has been between 210-215 lbs with a bodyfat percentage of 15%. It seemed that no matter how hard I worked out and dieted, those numbers would usually stay the same. I found that I was never able to really shake excess fat off my midsection or better known as the "muffin top." Knowing what I know now, this was due to my inability to activate those specific transverse and gluteus muscles so naturally with that inactivity your body stores fat. The ArpWave does something that no other machine can do, it trains your body from a neurological standpoint while all other methods train physiologically. One aspect I discovered from all the research I have done was the location of your pain symptoms may not necessarily be the origin of the problem. Symptoms are where the pain ends and not where it begins. Injuries typically occur due to compensations or overuse of a body part from improper movement and the only way to correct those movement patterns is by retraining your nervous system. Sounds simple, but being that the nervous system is the most complex and commonly misunderstood system of the human body it is rather difficult. After just 4 weeks of using the ArpWave RX100, my weight went down to 201 lbs. for the first time since I was 19 and my bodyfat percentage is at 12%. Keep in mind, I have done virtually zero athletic activity other than using ArpWave protocol and following the recommended meal plan.
As far as its effect on recovery for the hip, it has helped tremendously with range of motion and muscle development. I am feeling muscles I have never felt before and my posture has also improved. At the 12 week mark, I still do not feel 100% as there is very minor inhibition with on/off groin tightness. In the locations of the incisions, I still feel faintness of leftover scar tissue that keeps me from pushing my athletic activity. Normal activity such as, skating, walking, running and demonstrating exercises for my clients seems to be going just fine. I feel very little discomfort or pain and am staying patient with the home stretch of the recovery. Friends and colleagues who also had FAI surgery have shared with me that it took 5 months to be "competition ready." I am almost there and feel confident that the surgery and my recovery approach will restore my body back to full health.