Grace’s Story: A Teen’s Positivity in the Face of Hip Dysplasia

From the time I was little, I loved to dance. Every dancer knows that pain is a part of the sport, and that there is a very small chance that you will make it through without experiencing some injury. The clicking and cracking in my hips during ballet class seemed like just a part of the process, and I thought nothing of it. Eventually, my teachers advised that I go to the doctor and so I did.

The surgeon I saw diagnosed it as “Hip Impingement Syndrome,” with no mention of dysplasia or, more specifically, the retroversion that I would later find out I had. I started going to physical therapy, and did it for almost eight months before deciding it was doing nothing. After more X-Rays, needles, MRIs, and opinions, I was finally told I had a labrum tear on my right side.

I ended up getting a right side labrum reconstruction in July 2016 at age 13. Once I was recovered, I realized my left side still really hurt. After more research, the same doctor decided I needed that hip fixed as well. So, I had a left side labrum reconstruction in July 2017. Once my left side was fully recovered from the surgery, I realized I was still having pain on both sides. The surgeries had done nothing for me. The surgeon who performed both of my surgeries assured me that the lingering pain was scar tissue, and that with more PT and exercising it would go away soon.

But, of course, it didn’t.

He then told me that he saw a little bit of retroversion in my hip, but warned me of the danger and intensity of the periacetabular osteotomy (PAO)surgery, and he strongly advised me to “tough out” the pain and not get the surgery.

I spent the next year and a half getting several more opinions. I went to several different physical therapists, chiropractors, and orthopedic surgeons. No one seemed to be able to figure out a solution other than a PAO. It took some extra research and time, but I finally decided to have the PAO.

I had my first (reverse) PAO on June 25th, 2019 at age 16. I’m about 4 months post op writing this, and already feel so much better. I am not fully recovered quite yet, but I know I am getting there.
I’ve just scheduled my next two surgeries for February 2020. The first one is going to be to fix the labrum that re tore after the reconstruction surgery due to the dysplasia. The second surgery will be my left side (reverse) PAO.

I will always be upset that my first two surgeries were for nothing, and that two years of my life were wasted on, as my Mom says, “rearranging the deck chairs on the titanic”. I will always be frustrated that the first doctor I went to knew about the dysplasia the whole time, but suggested labrum reconstructions instead. And I will especially always be sad that my pain may never fully go away, not only because that can be the nature of the dysplasia, but because the labrum surgeries I had may have messed up that part of my hips for good.

I have struggled a lot during this experience, balancing the chronic pain I was experiencing with the regular life of a teenager. But I have learned the importance of staying positive and have found a lot of comfort in other people’s stories. I want to be able to show people that no matter how young you are, or how long you have been dealing with something, you can and will get through it. I am only in the middle of my journey, but I consistently remind myself how lucky I am that I have access to the resources that can help me get better. I believe that I will be healed one day, and will get to live my life dysplasia free and say that I have conquered it.

Grace invites you to continue to follow her journey through her personal blog: