Henry Warner has been a runner since high school and has always considered himself to be athletic. In addition to running, I lift weights and I bicycle quite a bit. In recent years I have competed in age-group sprint triathlons, so this also included a lot of swimming in my workouts. At age 62, I typically workout five times a week and I thought I was in pretty good shape, other than the occasional back twinge or strained muscle.
In early January 2013 I was doing some running speed work and after one particular workout, I noticed a sharp pain in my groin when lifting my leg to put on my pants and even when bending down to tie my shoe laces. I assumed that I had pulled a groin muscle during my recent workout. I didn’t think much about it, other than thinking that at my age, it would probably take a long time to heal.
Several months later – into March, it was still hurting. I was taking it easy on the running and mostly biking for a cardio workout. But I did some running on days that I felt better. Those days became more and more infrequent. In fact several times, the pain was so bad after a workout that I could barely walk. I thought that I was perhaps pushing myself too hard and re-injuring the “pulled muscle”.
In late March I visited my primary care physician. I told him that I had been running and thought I pulled a groin muscle. This doctor basically accepted my own self diagnosis and did no testing. No X-rays or any other tests. He prescribed physical therapy.
A month later I was in even more pain. I was waking up at night about once an hour from the pain that I had not only in my groin area, but running down my leg into the knee. Reality was settling in and I knew this was no ordinary muscle pull, so I made an appointment with an orthopedic doctor. This doctor listened to my story and self-diagnosis, but thankfully made up his own mind. He performed some range-of-motion tests on my leg then ordered X-rays. Even before he had seen the X-ray results, he told me that he suspected a hip problem. Sure enough, the X-Rays showed that I had bone-on-bone in my right hip. I was floored.
I had no inkling that I had any kind of cartilage wear issue with my hips, as I had never had any hip pain my entire life. Evidently the cartilage had been wearing out over the years, but as long as there is a layer of cartilage, even if it’s thin, the femur is able to glide smoothly in the hip socket. Once the cartilage layer was compromised, though, the bone-on-bone contact (and pain) begins.
I was told that I needed to have a hip replacement operation. Whoa! That can’t possibly be the case. I’m only 62 – I’m still “young”! Surely there were other options. Like maybe just upping my dosage of glucosamine and fish oil! Well, to make a long story short, after many hours of web research and several doctor consultations I concluded that was indeed the only realistically viable option. There are alternative procedures and recommendations to be found, like stem cell injections, other types of injections and dietary changes, but my conclusion was that these could not be relied upon. Often times practitioners made claims of feeling better after following some alternative course, but nowhere did I find hard objective data that anything can actually regrow cartilage in the joint. I want to see “before” and “after” X-rays that actually show improvement. These are hard to find.
There are some clinics I found on the Internet that claim to show evidence of cartilage thickening, but the reviews were invariably mixed. And to Henry Warner’s way of thinking, if there were actually viable alternatives, would these not be commonplace and covered by insurance?
In May, 2013 Henry Warner “bit the bullet” and scheduled a hip resurfacing procedure. I had originally planned to defer an operation until after the upcoming September France trip, but the pain was getting intolerable. I learned that I could expect to be resuming a fairly normal activity schedule after about six weeks, so I am now scheduled to have the operation on May 24, 2013. More to come later!