Chronic Hip Pain Left High School Student on the Bench

High school senior Delaney Workman didn’t plan to sit out of all of her favorite sports for her final year of high school. However, after enduring four surgeries in less than two years, she made the tough decision.

“I remember when it happened, I was playing volleyball and I felt a pop during the game after I landed in a position that was not normal,” said Delaney.

The all-star athlete who played volleyball, softball and participated in cheerleading initially thought the pain in her right leg was a pulled groin. For several weeks, she treated her injury with ice and long-term medication. Five weeks went by and Delaney wasn’t seeing any improvement in her pain. After visiting Dr. Rehal Bhojani, medical director of the IRONMAN Sports Medicine Institute at Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital, he informed her it was a sports hernia, a muscle tissue tear or strain in the lower abdomen or groin area. This injury would be the beginning of a long journey of multiple sports injuries over the next year and a half. Several weeks after the hernia was diagnosed, Delaney underwent surgery on her sports hernia in her lower right abdomen.

After recovering from sports hernia surgery, Delaney was participating in summer workouts and tore her aductor from her pubic bone which sent her back to surgery. Delaney returned to school and was back cheering with her high school cheer squad when she felt a sudden pop in her right hip. She immediately sat down and spent the rest of the game on the sidelines. Thinking it was her groin again, she treated it with ice and over-the-counter pain medication. “The chronic pain persisted, nothing I could do was helping take the pain away so I told my mom I think I need to go back to see the doctor,” said Delaney. Dr. Bhojani referred her to Dr. Terrence Anderson, affiliated orthopedic surgeon at IRONMAN Sports Medicine Institute at Memorial Hermann Sugar Land.

Dr. Anderson examined Delaney and discovered she was suffering from a condition called femoroacetabular impingment (FAI) which can lead to cartilage damage within the hip.  The condition can often cause long-term pain in the groin or front of the thigh and loss of the hip’s full range of motion. “Many young, active patients experience this type of pain but attribute it to a pulled muscle.  It is important to consider FAI as a potential cause if the pain does not improve as expected with rest and treatment,” said Dr. Anderson.

Hip impingement is becoming more common as young people continue to become more active, and research has found that it is often a cause of early osteoarthritis of the hip.

“All of this happened while I was a junior, which was a critical year for me as I prepared to go to college,” said Delaney. Once again, the then-high school junior found herself headed into surgery. Dr. Anderson used a minimally invasive arthroscopic approach to repair the torn cartilage and remove the excess bone causing impingement in Delaney’s hip.   “I was very appreciative of Dr. Anderson because he knew how important school was to me and he and his team worked with me to accommodate my school schedule so I could keep my perfect attendance record.” Four months after Dr. Anderson operated on her right hip he repaired her left hip in an identical procedure.

Delaney went through four weeks of physical therapy which involved exercises that promoted continuous motion to ensure her new hip repairs were adjusting to her body’s movement.

“Drs. Anderson and Bhojani were wonderful to work with and I’m thankful they were able to get me to a point of being pain free after almost two years of doctors’ appointments, physical therapy and surgeries,” said Delaney. “It was a stressful time but they both made the process infinitely better.”

Delaney was able to continue cheering in a limited manner. With the decision to sit out of athletics for her senior year, the high school senior was able to shift her focus to college and her future and was recently admitted to her number one choice university, where she will study speech pathology.

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Ali Vise