Bryony’s Story

Blog » Hip Dysplasia (DDH) » Personal Stories

“I’ve struggled with hip pain for as long as I can remember. I have loved all sports since being tiny and had a real passion for ballet from the age of 4.  When I was a child/young teen the hip pain I was experiencing was always put down to growing pains.  Into my early 20s the pain became worse but again I thought that it was still growing pains or perhaps I’d overworked myself at the gym. It was in my mid 20s when I was diagnosed with hypermobility giving me a sense of relief in that finally I knew why so many of my joints were so painful. I tweaked the way I did my workouts in the gym and worked on building my core strength which I was told was very important with being hypermobile.

I went back and forth to the doctors more times than I can count and continued with severe hip pain into my mid to late 20s but, because I’d had the hypermobility diagnosis, I was always told it was because of this; so I battled on, giving up with the doctors.

During the Summer of 2020, I’d been doing home workouts with my sister. One morning, I woke unable to walk up the stairs and had a terrible limp along with excruciating pain. I thought to myself,  “Gosh, what have I done in the workout to cause so much pain?”  The pain went on for a couple of weeks and so I called a private sports rehab physio to come take a look.  I explained to her what exercise I thought it was that had caused the pain and also how long I’ve been living with pain: she encouraged me to request an x-ray on my hips.

I thought about it for a few days, but I was starting to get scared when the pain was so horrific that even lying still in bed would have me crying in agony.  I wondered what on earth was wrong with me, when I couldn’t sleep, walk or go upstairs due to having so much pain.  It reached the point where I began to shuffle along the floor and that’s when I returned to the doctors, about 3 months after this all seemed to really kick off.  I had an x-ray and in November 2020 I received the diagnosis of Congenital Bilateral Hip Dysplasia. I hadn’t even heard of this and so had no idea what this meant or what the implications would be. The consultant told me he’d see me again in the April 2021, to see if the pain had improved at all and when I got into the car I googled hip dysplasia and had a glimpse of what my future would entail. I was shocked, upset and very overwhelmed.

Of course the pain only got worse and worse.  I felt isolated, lonely, couldn’t do my job properly, exhausted with the constant pain and lack of sleep, and really felt like my life had stopped. I was living in Scotland at the time, (moved there in October 2020), with my partner and the waiting time up there for surgery was 18 months to 2 years. Thankfully my Mum stepped in and helped to get me an appointment in Newcastle.

The consultant was amazing when I saw him in June 2021 and said he could do the surgery (Periacetabular Osteotomy) in October 2021. I started to really prepare myself mentally for this and physically as much as I could.  My mental health had taken a really bad turn with all of this going on so I was prescribed some medication, I also decided to pay for some private talking therapy.  I genuinely did all I could to prepare.

Come 2 weeks before my surgery my partner and I separated; I knew I had to be strong and concentrate on myself with what I was about to be facing and it made me even more determined!

October 1st 2021 – surgery day! My Dad and sister dropped me off that morning at 7am and I waited in my room to be called down for surgery. I was so nervous but the bright rainbow outside of my bedroom window gave me hope and I knew I ‘d be okay as the anaesthetist pointed it out to me that I was clearly being watched over.  I went down to surgery at about 2pm and was back in my room at 4.30pm-ish.

Now came the hard part – recovery.  I was so ill from the morphine, couldn’t move my leg at all, it was like it was paralysed which I was told was normal and that I had to do tiny movements to wake up the muscles again.  Physio was harder than I ever imagined but I did every single thing I was told to do.

I got back home 4 days later and was so excited to cuddle my then 6 month old cat.  I reached out to an amazing group on Facebook called “Peri-Acetabular Osteotomy (PAO) UK Based Group” as I knew they all understood entirely, every aspect of this surgery and I knew there’d be no judgement, only help.   In the group we all call one another Hip Warriors!

I was now able to concentrate on my physio/recovery being strict and was really starting to feel the progress. By early January I was completely off my crutches walking a few steps on the beach, New Year’s Day 2022, without them!  However, early February my other hip became extremely painful. I was so upset as I had really thought maybe I’d not need my other hip operated on. I was wrong, the pain got worse and worse and the surgeon suggested another Periacetabular Osteotomy…how was I going to go through that again!? 6th May 2022, just 7 months after my first surgery, I was in for my second PAO operation. The weeks leading up to it I had so much doubt when I had a good day I thought, no I don’t want another operation/need another one but I was kidding myself.  The bad days outweighed the good and by leaving it I’d only have made things much worse and not be able to live my life.  So, surgery two came along and I was feeling so much regret and all of the tablets I was on did nothing to help the nerve pain.  This recovery was hell but I still did all of the exercises I was told to do; apart from one due to the nerve injury.  My leg would not move upwards at all.  The nerve pain continued for about 2 and a half months and even now a few months later it’s still not right.  I have loss of sensation at the top of my leg and get the odd stinging sensation but it’s zero in comparison to what it was in the early days.  I’ve been off my crutches since August 2022 and have been building up my walking since then.

I’ve done 3 and a half miles with zero pain recently and can now do the leg press in the gym at 50kg, leg abduction at 35kg and leg curl at 30kg.  I’ve even started doing deadlifts with a 20kg bar in the last couple of weeks.  I’ve been doing Pilates classes again, walking along the beaches, cross trainer and bike in the gym plus squats; and all of this with no pain at all.  I still have a lot of work to do in my recovery but I can’t remember a time in my life where I’ve felt so good/no pain.

I am planning to hike Ben Nevis in May 2023 to coincide with the one year anniversary since having both hips “sorted”.  My sister and best friend hiked Ben Nevis on the 7th May 2022, the day after my second surgery.  They face-timed me at about 1pm and I was just sat back in bed after taking my very first 4/5 steps with my walking frame and they had just reached the summit.  So, the moment they took their first steps on the summit was the same moment I was taking my first steps out of bed.  We thought it was such an amazing moment of serendipity.  We had raised £750 for Steps Charity and I plan to raise money for this amazing charity next year when I attempt to take on Ben Nevis just a year after my surgery.

Something I’d finally like to say, the inner strength gets you through this, a good support system is so important and I’d not have coped without my family and friends.  The Facebook group was a real life saver as well and I don’t regret either surgeries for a single second.  They have given me my life back and I can now live pain free for the first time in my life.  There will be more surgeries in the future such as screw removal and hip replacements but for now I am so excited and happy with how I feel.  I will forever be grateful to the wonderful surgeon, Mr Malviya.

Hip warrior, Bryony, 31 years old, 2 x PAO surgeries.”

Post story Bryony has climbed Simonside Hills and commented, “Having so long of not being able to move, it’s just the BEST feeling to be able to get back to enjoying walks, the gym and Pilates again and even just going up and down the stairs in the house”!

Bryony continues to make excellent progress; having had another operation in May 2023, postponing her hike up Ben Nevis, she has now taken to paddleboarding!!