Those first few months, before I returned to work were so easy, I was wondering what all the fuss was about. I had been told that it’s common to develop knee pain in the opposite knee to the hip surgery leg. Well, I laughed at how I have two opposite knees but also didn’t think it would actually happen to me. I never think that the rules apply to me.
I had also been told, it’s common to develop hip flexor tendinopthy following the surgery. Screw that. I’m not getting a hip flexor tendinopathy….
Then I returned to work.
This is where things got hard. I went from being mostly pain free to being in pain every
At 6months post op I was doing the same exercises at 6-12weeks post op.
I did eventually come out the side. There is that moment when you realise you have done it, you’ve made it over that hurdle……then you do something stupid and flare it up again.
Losing patience with my patients
Despite the flare ups, I just got on with things, knowing that this is part of the process.
However, there was a period where my tolerance level for my patients went way down. I’d spend all day on my feet, treating people and helping them with their pain. The exact thing which is making me worse.
The look on some peoples faces when I would tell them they couldn’t do their sport of choice for a few weeks, as if I had just told them the world is ending…….A few weeks is nothing, try having surgery. Then you will have something to moan about. It took everything in me to be caring and supportive for others, but I wasn’t able to do it for myself.
I would arrive at work in the morning, look at my full diary for the day and start coming up with ways to escape. What sickness could I fake to get out of this?
I never actually followed through with it though. In the past, when I have actually been sick, I’d always feel incredibly guilty having to cancel patients. So I never did it, but just knowing that I could was enough. It gave me back a feeling of control, something which I felt I didn’t have with my hips.
Why returning to work after surgery was hard for recovery
Returning to work made me realise the importance of that time off, not just because of my physical capabilities, but because being off work, I had not much to think about except my hips. They were always at the centre of my attention. Once back at work and back to ‘normal’ life my hips were at the back of my mind. My rehab took a backseat and I found myself doing things I shouldn’t do without thinking.
Oh and the rehab. Now I understand my patients. A big thing you find as a therapist is that patient compliance to rehab is so low. I could never understand why people don’t do their rehab. It’s always the same excuses, I forgot or I didn’t have time.
Now I’m just like my patients. It really is that easy to forget, and finding time in your busy life isn’t that easy. Actually, you can find time, it’s just that when you have spare time, the last thing you want to do is rehab. It is just so boring. SO boring.
Don’t get me wrong, I did do my rehab, but just not to the extend I was doing it whilst I was off work. It was very sporadic. It took a few months before I was able to figure out a routine that worked for me and fit in with my work schedule.
There were still some perks
One last thing before we get into it. I had mentioned before that my parents were doing all my shopping and cleaning my flat. Well, this continued on even once I was physically able to do it all myself. I never questioned it, I just let them do their thing, waiting for them to
It wasn’t till I was about 6 months
Things I learnt during this period:
- Surgery isn’t the hard part. It’s the returning to work that’s hard.
- Slotting back into ‘normal’ life with work responsibilities distracts you from doing what’s best for you injury.
- I should have taken more time off work.
- Scar tissue sucks.
- It’s very easy to slack on rehab. This is coming from someone that loves to workout.
- I developed lots of other MSK injuries due to compensating from my hips.
- My left hip felt pretty normal by about 4 months post-op and any
flare upswere minor and short lived. My right hip was another story. The difference between the 2 is that my right hip was worse going into surgery and had a labrum repair. The left hip didn’t have anything repaired, but rather was cleaned up. Generally, repair work has a longer rehab process.
- People moan about insignificant things.
- 6 months
post op– The moment I felt like I had turned a corner and things were going to be alright.
- 7 months
post op– I completely stopped having any pain (this was temporary though).
- 9 months
post op– I ran for 5min (by accident) for the first time in years without pain.
- 10 months
post op– Achieved my first post-op goal of cycling to work.
- 10 Months
post op– Started hiking again. 1 year post op– Started driving and Kayaking.
- 13 months
post op– Started spinning and yoga classes.
- 13 months post op – Back to doing everything I was doing pre-op (except running and HIIT). But this time, without pain.
Ultimately, If I was to do it all again I would do one thing differently. I would take more time off work to recover. Yes
So let’s start from the beginning
Following on from my posts about why I needed to have surgery, and what it’s like to have bilateral hip surgery, I am now going to be talking to you about everything that happened from returning to work up until just over
Returning to work after bilateral hip surgery
August – 3 months post op right hip, 7weeks-post op left hip
I was dreading returning to work. One thing I see a lot in my
For the first 3 weeks, I phased back in, building back up to my
From the moment I started back at work, my right hip began to hurt. At first, I ignored it. There was suddenly so much else going on, so much else to think about. So much….stimulation.
Lulled into a false sense of security
I then had a 2 week period of not only no pain, but I actually felt great. My hips felt like ‘normal’ hips. This is where the problem was. My hips felt normal so I treated them that way. I was now working full time. I wore my Fitbit to see how much walking my job involves. An average day is 20,000-25,000. In clinic, you barely sit down. One in, one out every 30min, sitting for maybe a few minutes in between. New patients were my
I have two 10hour work days which when fully booked can be up to 18 patients. That’s a lot of standing. I started off with regular breaks in my diary, but I was soon fully booked…..so I got rid of those extra breaks.
In my actual breaks, rather than resting like I should, I would get out and walk around the city. My walking pace had returned to pre op normal. Fast. Before returning to work my max walking time was about 15min. Now I was suddenly walking up to 40min at a time.
Now that I was back at work and back to normal life, I carried that over to the weekends, living at the pace I was pre-op, spending my days doing things I hadn’t been able to do for months.
Deep down I knew that I was doing too much, but I couldn’t stop myself. The best way I can describe it is, I felt like I had been let out of a cage.
The first progress from pre-op symptoms
It was during this period that I first noticed improvements of things from pre-op.
I no longer had pain related to the weather. Usually, if it was raining all day and very damp, or if it was really cold my hips would ache. It was like a sixth sense. If I’m indoors in
The second improvement was that I could now sleep in foetal position. It’s not my favourite sleeping position but I do like to have options when I sleep. Over the past couple of years, if I ever found myself curled into foetal, within seconds I’d be in pain. Oh yes, I can’t do that.
Now, one night, I suddenly
So, back to it….
During these two weeks, I was lulled into a false sense of security, I didn’t take care of myself
September – 4months post op right hip, 2.5months post op left hip
Reality sets in
For about 3 weeks my right hip progressively got worse but I was stubborn. I didn’t change the pace I was going at, I didn’t adjust my rehab according to my pain. I wasn’t doing hydrotherapy anymore (because my insurers decided I’d had enough) and I wasn’t going to regular physio because it was inconvenient to my schedule.
Then everything came to a head on one day. Suddenly my left hip starts hurting, and now both knees are hurting. Oh, the knee pain. It came out of nowhere. I’d had no inkling of knee pain up until this point and it went from zero to 100 pretty quickly.
The knee pain was constant. I’d wake up and before even moving they would hurt. By the end of the day, I was struggling to walk and they would be throbbing when I went to bed at night.
I was feeling a bit broken at this stage and I absolutely refused to have hip flexor tendinopathy, it wasn’t going to happen. So I did two things, I went back to my rehab and back to basics. I mean, I didn’t really have a choice anyway, the knee pain wouldn’t let me do anything weight-bearing. So now I was only doing non-weight bearing exercises. I couldn’t even use a stationary bike, it was too painful. Even some of the pool exercises hurt.
My insurers let me go to hydrotherapy again (shoutout to the amazing girls at hydro), and I also started going to a physiotherapist local to my work every week. He was my angel. From the first session, things felt so much better. My left hip resolved within a couple of sessions. My knees progressively improved but my right hip was still being stubborn.
Things were starting to get better….until they weren’t.
I woke up one day with right sided lower back pain, within a few hours of being up I developed nerve pain running down my right leg and pins and needles in my foot. I went to see my physio that day for an hour session and I left feeling like I was walking on air.
One day I attempted to wear shoes with a small heel. Big mistake, within a few steps my left knee was catching and hurting. I immediately took the shoes off and went back to trainers. The damage was however already done. The knee was flared up for the rest of the day. It would be 4 months before I attempted to wear ‘normal’ shoes again.
Swimming was great, but….
On another note, I was spending so much time in the pool that my hair succumbed to the chlorine. It was so matted it was impossible to brush. So I had to cut it all off. I’ve had long hair all my life then suddenly went short. But you know what? I loved it. After this, I decided I must now be one of those girls who doesn’t want to get her hair wet, so that doesn’t happen again. When you are trying not to get your hair wet you do notice how splashy people are. Actually, in general since I’ve been swimming so much more, I have noticed how many weird and wonderful swimming strokes people have.
Saying that, my swimming strokes probably had people wondering. Now that I try to avoid getting my hair wet I’m mostly doing breast stroke arms, however, I’m not doing breast stroke legs yet (which I will explain later). Which means I do front crawl legs with breast stoke arms. Yes, it’s very odd. Mixed in with just breast stoke arms and my legs floating behind having a rest. I was told a few times by people watching that I look very elegant when I swim.
October – 5months post op right hip, 3.5months post op left hip.
So as I said, my right hip was being stubborn. It would feel a bit better after physio but within a couple of days go back to how it was before. I still couldn’t tolerate any exercises in standing and could only do about 5min on the stationary bike with no resistance.
So I upped my stretching. Up until that point, I was only doing a bit of stretching after rehab. I started dedicating about 20min every
Then something strange happened.
After 4 days of doing this I was swimming front crawl when I felt something in my groin.
It was very small but it was a definite ripping sensation along with pain. Hmmmm, I hoped I hadn’t ripped anything important and continued on swimming. My groin area was a bit stingy and sore for the rest of the day but what happened next is the interesting part.
It was a good rip
I woke up the next day with no pain, with my legs pulled right into my chest in foetal. It’s as if subconsciously I was trying to protect my hip. Importantly though, I was in such extreme hip flexion without any pain at all.
To test it out, I went to the gym. Up until this point, I could only tolerate a few minutes on the bike. Well
Well, turns out it was a good rip.
For anyone wondering, It was most likely scar tissue ripping. Scar tissue forms after an injury (or surgery) and it itself can cause a lot of pain.
Trying to run (not literally) before I could walk
On the weekend, I walked around for about 3hours without sitting and guess what? Still no pain. What I did feel though, was an overwhelming sense of fatigue. My hips both suddenly felt so weak like they couldn’t carry the weight of my body. I sat down and had to call my dad to pick me up. That night the pain returned.
Now, the knee pain hasn’t resolved yet and the hip flexor pain didn’t stay away. Everything was significantly better though. I would describe my symptoms at this point as niggly. Every so often I would feel a bit of something, or If I had a very busy day on my feet I would have pain in both knees and hip flexors towards the end of the day. This was typically on a Monday and Friday. Monday, the first day back to work and a sudden increase in activity levels from the weekend. Then Friday, the end of the week, also my 10 hour
November – 6months post op right hip, 4.5months post op left.
Finally, some progress
As my right hip pain settles, I’m bringing my rehab back up. I’m able to get back to the level I was at before going to work and now for the first time, I progress further.
At this point I have so many exercises to do it would take 1.5 hours to do everything and I really have no desire to spend that long in the gym so I broke it up.
I thought about how I used to work out pre-op and applied the same principles to my rehab. Basically, I was never one to have a strict routine to stick to, but rather I would go to the gym with a rough idea of the areas I wanted to work on and whilst there decide what I felt like doing.
So that’s what I did. I set myself 4 gym days a week and varied what I did each day. This is what kept it interesting. It took away the monotony.
This is also that point in recovery where I felt like I had turned a corner. Like things really are going to be alright. Week by week I’m noticing improvements and I’m also physically doing more.
Well, it’s about time.
I still have the niggles in the knees and hip flexors, and by the end of the month, I stop having that end of day pain on a Monday and Friday.
I’m still going to weekly physio. I’m finding that for the week after each session things are a bit better than the week before. The niggles are less frequent and I’m able to progress my rehab without negative side effects.
Towards the end of the month, I try
Just a note incase you are confused why it took so long to do breast stroke legs, it’s one of those moves you are not allowed to do for a long time after hip surgery. It’s very provocative. Pun not intended.
(When I next saw my surgeon he told me to stop breast stroke legs. It’s too soon).
Of course something has to happen to derail this.
One day I was walking fast and with intention. There was a metal bar on the floor (which shouldn’t have been there). I didn’t see it and tripped with my left leg and to catch myself from falling landed very heavily on my right foot. It didn’t hurt then but I was pretty sure it would hurt later.
I went on to be quite flared up for about 1 week. About a 6/10 pain.
December – 7 months post op right hip, 5.5months post op left
Christmas month. The month I started to make my blog. I wasn’t going out to any Christmas parties because I didn’t trust myself with my hips. Knowing me, I would definitely drink and dance too much. The drinking itself isn’t what I was concerned about, it’s the effects of it. It would take away any pain, and in my drunken state, I would believe I could do anything. Which means I would pay the price with my hips later. With all the holiday days off work, and not going out anywhere I had a lot of spare time. I spent all this time sitting (or lying in bed) on my laptop making my website.
Blogging saved my hips
This turned out to be a blessing for my hips. It gave them a chance to rest. The most rest they have had since returning to work.
I was now pain free.
January – 8 months post op right hip 6.5 months post op left hip
My first holiday
Returning to work after the holidays I start to notice the right hip niggles again, but much much better than they had been before.
I have my first holiday in nearly a year. A weekend in Paris. All is well, except its very cold so sometimes I do mini runs to catch a train. When I say mini runs, I mean I run a few meters so I don’t miss it and have to sit on the cold platform. This triggers right hip pain. The pain is short lived though and settles by the next day.
For the rest of this month, I have no left hip pain, the knee pain and right hip pain show their faces just a handful of times.
I have also had enough of my current rehab program. I have zero motivation for it, so I mix it up. So I start doing reformer pilates 2-3 times per week. Bringing my other rehab program down to once a week.
February – 9 months post op right hip, 7.5 months post op left hip
My second holiday
I have another weekend break. This time in Bruges. I have it planned so that I get the train back to London on Monday morning to go straight to work. I have also planned it so I have lots of time to spare. Well, the train was delayed. Once I’m back in London, I have no choice but to run. I’m so late and run for a solid 5min when I’m out of the station. I know this is bad but I can’t stop myself, and accept the fact that I will be flared up later…..
But nothing happened. I had no flare up.
You can only understand how amazing this feels If you have been through recovery and rehab. 5 minutes doesn’t sound like much, but trust me, it is. It has been so many years since I have been able to run pain free. This is a big win.
Later that month…..
The past 2 months I have seen a significant improvement. It’s now time for things to get worse again.
I wake up one day, put my foot down out of bed and notice heel pain. It’s enough that I avoid putting my heel down and walk on my toes.
This my friends is the beginning of my plantartfaciits.
It gradually settles over the next few hours till I can walk normally again. This pattern repeats for the next few days. I know I should do something about it, but I ignore it and figure it will resolve on its own.
For a few days, the pain would ease off by midday. Then one day it didn’t. In fact, it got worse. I’m walking around everywhere on my toes waiting for the heel pain to settle enough that I can put my heel down. What happened instead, is the more I walked the more I could feel it pulling. By the end of the day, I was in agony. My heel was throbbing and both knees and right hip started hurting again. That night the pain woke me up. Not just the heel. Now my whole foot and all the way up my calf were throbbing. The next morning I was unable to put any weight through any part of my foot.
I had to crawl to the other room to get my crutches.
I had no choice but to walk non-weight bearing with crutches for the day. By the next day, I was walking normally. The pain never got that bad again but it was a couple of months before the underside of my foot stop feeling sensitive.
March- 10 months post op right hip, 8.5 months post op left hip.
My first post op goal
My first goal was to be able to cycle to work. And this month I did it. Its only 6 miles, but for me, those 6 miles
So, the physio in me said to cycle one way, then in a few days cycle one way again. Gradually building up to one way every day, then finally cycle both ways. Well, that obviously didn’t happen. From that first ride, I was hooked. I was cycling both ways every
Other than some stiffness for a few weeks, my hips were doing good. For the first time in a long time, I felt like I could do anything (except run). I had this sense of
Setting new goals.
Now that this goal was achieved, I needed another one…..
Cycle from London to Brighton, cycle from London to Paris….swim the channel.
Yes, I got it in my head that I would swim from England to France. I was dead set on the idea, and first
It’s ok, when I start open water swimming I can pee in the water.
Ah yes, open water swimming….just needed to wait for summer to start that lol.
I then discovered that you are not allowed to wear a wet suit for the channel swim. Hmmm, not so sure about that. Then I discovered it would cost me a few thousand pounds. Yeah, I think I’m gonna pass.
And that was the end of that.
You may be wondering about the wetsuit thing and the cost. You need support to swim the channel, and when you do it through an
A more realistic new goal
By the end of the month, I had started hiking again. Same story, the physio in me told me to start slow and build up. But no, I went straight out and did 8miles…then 10miles. I’m not talking mountain type hikes, but rather, really hilly walks on dirt trails.
I’d have a bit of hip pain at the end of the day, but not like pre op. Pre-op I could only manage a few miles before I had pain.
Ok, so it’s about time for another big flare up.
I’m heading out for a 10 mile coastal walk. It is NOT a hilly walk. Apart from one uphill at the beginning, it is possible to walk the whole thing on level-ish ground.
But that one hill. That one hill got me.
As I’m walking up the hill, within a few steps, I felt a searing pain across my right groin. And for the next few steps could not put any weight through that leg.
There is only one other time in my life that I have felt that exact pain. It was when I tore my labrum.
The damage was done.
I stood there without moving for about 10min figuring out my plan of action. Do I call It a day? Well, I was at the beginning of a 10 mile walk, and I had gone to the effort of getting a rail replacement bus to get there (don’t get me started on those friggin rail replacements). There was no way this was going to stop me. I didn’t get that damn bus for nothing.
I decided that if I had indeed torn my labrum again, then the damage was done. So I continued on.
The first time
April – 11 months post op right hip, 9.5 months post op left hip.
So, I continued to go out for a hike or long walk every weekend, but my hip never felt the same again. I was experiencing a lot of symptoms that I had had pre-op. I had this weird numb feeling in the hip. On a daily basis, I would get pain deep in my bum, around the side of my hip and an ache down my thigh. The pain level/intensity wasn’t anything like it used to be. It wasn’t so bad that it affected the way I walked, or anything really. But it was there.
Now I don’t know for sure whether I tore it again or not, and to be honest, there is really no need to know. There is no point getting a scan because w
Continue strengthening and progressing my rehab, guided by my symptoms etc. Let’s just be clear, I really should have rested for a while after that, as in, stop going on hikes and long walks. But, you know me.
May – 1 year post op
My 1st big holiday
This month I go to Sardinia for a week. This will be a big test for my hips. I will be hiking, kayaking and driving. All things I have had problems with.
Well, we already know I’m hiking. So no news there.
Kayaking. Well, you might be wondering why kayaking would be an issue. It’s the long periods of hip flexion. Guess, what? It turned out to be fine. I had a bit of right hip stiffness, but importantly, no pain.
Driving. The last time I had driven was on my Ireland road trip a couple of years prior. It was on that trip that I discovered how painful driving was. Well, I’m pleased to report that this time, I was absolutely fine. No pain, not even any stiffness.
June – 13months post op
Hitting new targets
I try out my first spinning class. I felt GREAT. Until an hour later. Both hips were huuuuurting. A deep intense ache….then the next day I did it again.
You see, I have this problem, a recurring theme throughout my rehab process. When I achieve something for the first time, I become obsessed and go full force.
That second time though, the ache was less and I continue on going to weekly spinning classes with absolutely no pain at all.
Barrecore is next. I will tell you, my right hip didn’t feel quite right. The extreme hip rotations and deep squats. My right hip was in a lot of pain after that one….I never did barrecore again.
Yoga. Now it’s time to try yoga. I’m a huge yoga fan and used to do it regularly…until my hips stopped me. It was one of those things that cause just a bit too much of a flare up.
So, in my first yoga class post op, I find that sometimes I will feel my hip catch and feel that searing pain again. But it’s short lived pain. My hips both feel a bit achy after class, but nothing to write home about. So I continue one, going to weekly classes. Each time hips feeling a bit better.
Still no running
I see my surgeon again. Actually, I forgot to mention, I saw him in April after that big
So, I see him again. The advice this time is that I need to hold off from running till next year. Well, I’ve gone this many years without running. What’s another?
July – 14 months post op
Well, here we are at present day. (Well, at the time of posting this it is actually September, but let’s just pretend).
Lets recap where I am now:
- Cycling to and from work every
- Spinning class every 1-2 weeks.
- Walking and hiking up to 13mile distances.
- Weekly yoga classes.
So, the flare up I had back in April. The one where I may or may not have torn the labrum again. Well, It took until around now to mostly settle. Over the past 3 months I’d find every so often I’d feel something catch in the hip which was followed by pain. But over the 3months it happened less and less. The pain was becoming increasingly mild and short lived. I still get that deep ache in my bum, but its mild and forgettable.
All in all I feel good.
None of the above activities cause me pain, which makes me happier than you could know. I do have some stiffness with yoga, and don’t have the range yet to do any deep flexion poses. But that’s ok. Any pain I do get is more related to being on my feet all day at work. I’m not running
My rehab journey is not over yet. I’m not doing plyometrics yet, and I haven’t summited any mountains. Now what my hips need is time. So that’s what I’m giving them.
If you have surgery and get frustrated with how long rehab is taking, feeling like you will never get better, r
I’m going to sign off there. What happened next? Well, it hasn’t happened yet. I will get back to you with that next year.