Looking at the Big Picture: Hip Preservation Restores an Active Life for Working Wife and Mom

By Drew Munhausen

Brittany Cariker didn’t know how to react when her doctor recommended she travel to Houston to take care of the pain in her hip.

Cariker was given two options by her local orthopedic specialist: a hip replacement at an early age, or an intense hip preservation surgery that was readily available to her in Houston—an 8-hour drive from her home in Mississippi.

“Honestly, my first thought was that I would just get the hip replacement,” said Cariker, who is 31 years old. “However, my doctor told me I really should reconsider. I wasn’t looking at the bigger picture.”

Cariker only started experiencing pain in her hip when she was pregnant with her daughter, Emerson. But Cariker was still in pain two years after Emerson was born.

“If I did any kind of physical activity, I was miserable after,” Cariker said. “I wanted to be healthy, active and able to play with my daughter. If I was active, I paid for it.”

Cariker was diagnosed with a labral tear and hip dysplasia, a congenital hip condition where the hip joint has not formed correctly.

If hip dysplasia is diagnosed as a child, it can easily be corrected through surgical means. However, many instances of hip dysplasia aren’t diagnosed until adulthood, so symptoms and pain persist later in life. Many adults with hip dysplasia opt for hip replacement surgery. But there are alternative surgical options.

Cariker’s orthopedic specialist in Mississippi referred her to Alfred Mansour, MD, a hip preservation and sports medicine specialist who the referring physician first met while the two were working at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Dr. Mansour is affiliated with Memorial Hermann IRONMAN Sports Medicine Institute and is the Director of the Comprehensive Hip Preservation Program at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth. He is one of the few surgeons in the south region who offers comprehensive hip preservation surgeries.

Hip preservation surgery helps patients overcome the limitations of joint replacement by repairing or revising their own natural hip. Hip replacement, by contrast, replaces the hip with prosthesis and is more physically limiting.

Dr. Alfred Mansour (left) with
Brittany and Heath Cariker

Cariker and her husband, Heath, made the drive to Houston to meet with Dr. Mansour in November of 2017, and he walked them through the procedure and recovery.

Cariker was in need of a periacetabular osteotomy (PAO), a surgical procedure to treat hip dysplasia that involves separating the hip socket from the bone and repositioning it with screws to allow for a better coverage of the femoral head, which is the ball portion the bone that fits into the hip socket. The procedure reduces pain, restores function and prevents further deterioration of the hip joint, thereby increasing the life of the hip joint and postponing total hip replacement. Dr. Mansour also repaired the torn labrum.

“I knew that this would be the best option for me, but the procedure was going to be a lot to go through for a mom with a 2-year-old,” Cariker said. “Luckily, Dr. Mansour’s team let me wait a few months before going through with it.”

Cariker’s hip preservation procedure took place on Aug. 8, 2018. She stayed at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center for three nights before returning home. Cariker spent the next 12 weeks on crutches to avoid weight-bearing activity.

“Brittany’s underlying hip dysplasia required specialized treatment,” Dr. Mansour said. “You can have a great outcome from a difficult problem as long as it’s taken care of appropriately. It’s really more than just a surgery – it’s a program of surgery and rehab that requires focus from start to finish. You have to leverage the strength of both to maximize the patient outcome.”

Cariker made sure to have Emerson checked for hip dysplasia as well since it is a hereditary condition. Luckily, no hip dysplasia was found.

A year after her procedure, Cariker runs 4 to 5 miles a day, multiple days per week.

“It’s a huge thing, as a working wife and a mom, to be limited after a big surgery for a long period of time,” Cariker said. “That being said, I’m mad at myself that I didn’t do it sooner. I knew how bad I felt, but didn’t realize the potential of how good I could feel. We couldn’t have asked for a better experience, and everyone there at Memorial Hermann made it go as well as it possibly could.”

For more information on hip preservation treatment, visit https://jointpain.memorialhermann.org/hip-pain/hip-preservation/

For more information on joint pain, or to schedule an appointment, visit https://jointpain.memorialhermann.org/get-started/

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