Never ignore chronic pain

I decided to write this post after reading an article on the bbc website which suggested that yoga teachers and participants are at an increased risk of hip problems because of pushing through painful ranges of motion.

For years I have been plagued by chronically painful hips. Having been very active for my whole life (I played soccer at amateur and semi pro level) and becoming involved in the fitness industry as a personal trainer, the restricted range of motion and pain in my hips became a debilitating issue.

I saw a number of physiotherapists, who all told me the same thing ” You need to stretch more”. I tried this for a while and saw no improvements. Clearly this was more than a issue of tight muscles. I noticed that my ability to internally rotate my hips had dramatically decreased . I actually felt like I was in my 80’s rather than mid 20’s, the pain and the tightness was that bad.

Image 1 below shows me hitting a deep squat. This picture depicts a poignant point in my training. The grimace on my face was not because of the massive load of 60kg I was lifting. Before you say “is that all?” , it was a warm up set! No the grimace on my face was a result of bone shuddering (quite literally ) that i experienced as I descended into my squat. It was as if two bones were rubbing together. This was far from a muscle issue. I wasn’t too proud to call it a day there. I returned home, determined to get to the bottom of the issue once and for all.

Image 1- my painful squat

My understanding of the squat movement and indeed of the pain and restrictions with my hips led to stumbling on the term Femoral Acetabular Impingement- where a bone spur develops at the femoral head (top of the thigh bone) and/ or along Acetabular (the socket of the hip bone) causing bone-to- bone contact.

A bone spur at head of the femur is indicative of a Cam impingement whereas a bone spur at the Acetabular is indicative of a Pincer impingement (See Image 2 below). To my horror both conditions can coexist as a mixed impingement.

It was definitely a eureka moment. I know I know, there is always a differential diagnosis, but I pretty much had every symptom. Restricted internal rotation of the hips? Check. A dull ache or sometimes a sharp pain when squatting? Umm big check!!! An athletic lifestyle would have also sped up the condition according to my initial research.

Image 2- (Top) Xray of my right hip (Below) Femur and acetabulum relationship

Fast forward a couple of months to my xray (see right) and it was confirmed that i did indeed have a Cam impingement…wait for it IN BOTH HIPS! I mean what are the odds?!?! The right hip was worse, which made sense as I was a right side dominant soccer player.

Fast forward to February 2018- I finally had surgery hip arthroscopic surgery. It was the best decision i have ever made. I am now pain free on the right side and managing the left sided pain very well.

The moral of this story (much like the message from the article) is chronic pain is a sign of something being mechanically wrong, ignore it at your peril!

For those interested here is a link to the article:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/health-50181155

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