Is an old hip injury contributing to my current pain?

A columnist reflects on a painful sports injury from high school

Karen Del Vecchio avatar

by Karen Del Vecchio |

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Last week’s column about my hip pain got me thinking. I badly injured my right hip when I was 16 or 17 years old, before my diagnosis of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS). I’m not sure if I had hip pain prior to that, but I’ve had issues with it ever since.

On the day of my injury, it was pouring rain. I remember sitting in class, hoping soccer practice would be canceled so I could have a day off and go home. Instead, we wound up being the only outdoor sport to practice that day.

The field had several inches of standing water, and it’s the only time in my life I had to deal with a ball floating as I dribbled. It was still raining, too, and I was soaking wet from top to bottom. As I planted my right foot to send a kick with my left, I felt the ground underneath me give way. I immediately knew I was in trouble, but there wasn’t anything I could do to stop it.

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Yet another new way of feeling my EDS pain

As my leg slipped, my hip just kept going, and I felt an exceptionally painful stretching around the front of my hip down the bone. As I hit the ground with a cartoon-worthy splash, I was certain I’d injured myself badly.

Unfortunately, I was right. After being carted into the athletic trainer’s office by golf cart since I couldn’t walk, I found out that I’d likely torn part of my hip flexors, a group of muscles that allow you to bring your legs up and forward.

It felt like my hip took forever to heal and was always susceptible to irritation after that. If I’d known I had Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, it would’ve made a lot more sense! Additionally, my EDS helps to explain how it happened in the first place. While anyone can sustain an injury, it’s unusual for a highly fit teenager to injure their hip.

Years later, at the appointment where I was finally diagnosed, the doctor was quizzing me about where I had pain. One of many places I mentioned was my hip. He told me that wouldn’t be common in someone so young (I was 22 at the time), but that he’d check it during the physical exam.

He said that what most people think is hip pain actually isn’t, but I’d know if it was when he palpated a certain spot. Boy, did I ever. I nearly launched off the table at the resulting pain! The doctor apologized and said that, yes, clearly I had true hip pain.

I don’t know whether that injury has played a role in my recent hip pain, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it did. My whole life, injuries seem to never truly go away. They’ll settle down, improve, and even appear to heal completely for a while, but in the right circumstances, they’ll always pop back up. Now that I understand that EDS makes it more likely for me to injure and re-injure myself, this pattern makes much more sense.

Note: Ehlers-Danlos News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Ehlers-Danlos News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Ehlers-Danlos.


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