2023 Cartilage Update

It has been an exceedingly long time, I know. Yet, despite how long it has been, I still have not decided how I want to style this blog. My preference is to design all of these posts using full-width Elementor layouts, because I think that they look much better than the standard blog layout. (Also, I deeply, deeply, deeply dislike the WordPress block editor.) The problem is that those posts end up being untethered from the necessary blog navigation features: tags, categories, archives, and the like.

The flipside, though, which you are seeing right here, irks me. With these standard blog posts, I get all of the structured bloggy widgets, all of which greatly help with search engine optimization, but the layout looks quite basic, and I clearly have not written all of the necessary CSS to establish even styling between these posts and the rest of the website.

It is sloppy looking, I know, and I apologize. I’ll get there someday.

Last week, I wrote a long overdue blog update that announced to the world that I am continuing to experience an array of cartilage problems in my lower body—currently in my right hip, for which I had surgery on May 31.

As a result, and because I am also going to need surgery in my left hip later this summer, I thought that it would be a good time to revisit the old surgery stats feature and to offer some ongoing updates about my progress both with my obviously degrading cartilage and as a long distance runner.

The Right Hip Diagnosis

In March of 2023, I was diagnosed with femoroacetabular impingement syndrome and a torn labrum in my right hip. At the time, I had been experiencing intermittent hip pain since March of 2014, beginning with an unexpected explosion-like sensation on the evening of March 12, 2014. I remember the date so clearly because this explosion happened mere days before the 2014 Shamrock Marathon, which I had trained to run after years of training interruptions due to the (at that time) undiagnosed osteochondral defect in my right ankle. I ran that race in some discomfort, and then I lived with additional discomfort for about three subsequent months before the pain disappeared altogether.

Then, just as unexpectedly, in November 2020, my right hip exploded in pain again. When the second explosion happened, I rested for a month, and then I just started running again, because I could not believe that the pain I was experiencing was at all related to running. My training volume was low, and my hip blew up when I was petting one of my cats.

By early 2022, the pain had not fully subsided, so I got an MRI, which showed the labral tear. I was given a cortisone shot in February 2022, and I was told to go on with my life so that we could see how well things went. The pain returned about ten months later—just in time for Christmas!—so I scheduled a follow-up appointment, during which I was told that surgery was the best option. As part of that follow-up appointment, I was scheduled for a bilateral hip MRI, which is how the problems in my left hip were also diagnosed (more on that later). The best way to progress beyond all of this is to get both hips fixed as closely in time as possible.

And now here we are.

Surgical Findings

The findings were consistent with the diagnosis. Thankfully, my labrum could be repaired, as opposed to reconstructed, so there was less work involved there. During the procedure, my surgeon found a 5 x 4mm loose cartilage body floating in the joint. He removed that fragment and opted not to microfracture the area from which this piece of cartilage was displaced. Apparently, the area of the displacement is not one that is weight-bearing, and the overall area was sturdy. Still, I now officially have two cartilage defects in my right leg. Finally, my surgeon reshaped the femoral head of my right leg bone.

All that in less than two hours!

Surgery Stats

Again, I’ll come back to my left hip soon enough, but basically, in March 2023, I was cleared to do whatever I wanted to pain tolerance. So, of course, I kept running, logging a 13.1-mile workout on the Saturday before surgery and a pseudo-marathon pace run on the Monday before surgery. I also made good on my 2023 Cherry Blossom Ten Miler entry, even though I was only able to complete a max of seven miles as a long run prior to the race, with an overall weekly volume of less than twenty miles.

It was a rough spring, but I am hopeful for the future, even though I probably will not be able to run at all until late December 2023.

The Stats

5/31/23—date of surgery

6/1/23—first follow-up appointment, removal of stitches

6/12/23—beginning of physical therapy

6/14/23—gradual reduction of crutch use indoors, first reduction in post-op prescription medication

6/28/23—projected final date of crutch use outdoors