Ice Skater returns after bilateral hip arthroscopies

As an longtime ice skater & athlete, Melissa has bad been battling hip & groin pain since she was 8 years old. After years of misdiagnosis and treatments she returned to the ice in March of 2023 after bilateral hip arthroscopies to treat labral tears and hip impingement.

Early Hip Pain & Discomfort

I have been figure skating pretty much my entire life. When I found out in 2019 that I had hip impingement and possible labral tears, the dots began to connect as to why I had been experiencing mobility issues, restricted range of motion, and pain in my hip area. As early as 8 years old, I can recall having a tough time doing a dip in skating, a “squat” motion held for several seconds. However, as I continued to progress in skating and mature, no one ever thought I might have hip impingement or issues with my hips.

As Melissa got older, the pain got worse

Even in my early 20s and 30s, I started having low back and what appeared to be “SI Joint” pain. I started experiencing frequent “groin strains” in fitness classes such as barre and yoga. I resorted to chiropractic medicine and spine surgeons who never suggested that this pain could stem from hip impingement and labral tears. The pain started getting much worse, and I had trouble sitting or standing for even short periods without feeling a locked and unstable feeling in the back of my hips. Long car trips and air travel were nearly impossible, as I had to constantly contort and thrash in and out of unhealthy sitting and laying positions to find any relief or comfort from the pain. Finally, the pain got bad enough that I knew it wasn’t my low back. I started concluding that it could be my hips.

I mentioned these woes to a friend who also worked for the Illinois Bone & Joint Institute (IBJI) and asked if I’d seen a hip preservationist. I said I hadn’t, and she immediately recommended I schedule an appointment to see Dr. Ritesh Shah. She explained to me that he was an expert in this area and a nationally highly regarded surgeon for complex issues of the hip.

Proper Diagnosis & Treatment of Labral Tears & hip impingement

Fast forward to 2022, when I saw Dr. Shah, and he confirmed that not only did I have one, but two labral tears and hip impingement in both hips, and the only resolution would be to have Hip Arthroscopy to correct the issue and allow me to continue to coach in the sport that I loved. Leading up to surgery, I continued to have decreased mobility and function in my hips, quads, lower back, and hamstrings, and many skating skills that I used to love were increasingly becoming less accessible and more problematic.

Did you know?

Studies indicate that hip or groin pain in young patients is often misdiagnosed and can persist for over three years, but hip arthroscopy can provide an effective treatment option.

I must admit that I had many fears going into my surgeries before Fall 2022. I wondered if I would feel the same. Would it be harder? Can I perform the skills I once did so very well? Can I demonstrate skating skills to my students?

I’m happy to say that I had two successful surgeries on the left and right hips in September and November of 2022. I took my recovery very seriously and appreciated Dr Shah’s no-nonsense approach to getting me back into skating while maintaining the utmost care and concern throughout my recovery.

Physical therapy & the road to recovery

I diligently did PT my exercises and was committed to getting back on the ice. Throughout the entire process, Dr. Shah and his team were committed to getting me back on the ice as soon as my body was ready. At one of my follow-up appointments in February of 2023, Dr Shah informed me that I was ahead of schedule and could return to the ice mid-March of 2023. The smile on my face had never been bigger. My biggest challenge was coming to terms with what it would be like to take those first steps on the ice after a reprieve of 6 months. The longest I had been off skates before was about 5 weeks.

My successful return to the ice

I’ll never forget March 15, 2023, as I first stepped back on the ice. So many emotions were running through my mind: Fear, Excitement, Joy, Trepidation, and Anticipation. Those first couple steps were as memorable as learning to walk. I got back on the ice and was very cautious on that first brief session but never looked back. All the pain, aches and limited range of motion were gone, and within a few more sessions, my recovery and being off the ice was nothing but a distant memory.

Did you know?

More than 90% of the patients who undergo hip arthroscopy can return to regular athletic function and their pre-injury active lifestyle.

For the first time in my life, I could do a proper dip (My hips now worked correctly and were no longer impinged) and coach on the ice for a good period of time without my lower back hurting and giving me issues. I could also do spirals, spread eagles, and lunges in record time and better than before. Basic jumps like waltz jumps and half flips even felt easier. I’m here as living proof to tell anyone who has reservations about this surgery to trust and believe. It was worth it, and I’m so glad I did it. I have never looked back. I’m out of the daily pain and angst that I had been suffering for years, and I owe that to the excellent work of Dr. Shah while I have been under his care.

I hope this testimonial will inspire others to do this surgery if needed. It changed my life, and I hope it will change yours too!

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