Hip labrum and FAI surgery: Week and Day of Surgery

My last post about my hip labrum and FAI surgery indicated that my surgery date was going to be 12/15/15. I had my pre-op testing at the hospital on 12/1 which included a complete blood count, EKG and chest X-ray. I received a call the next morning from my surgeon, Dr. Tim Bert‘s, office (Hedley Orthopedic) explaining that my white blood cell  (WBC) count that was too high for surgery on the 15th – I had been battling a sinus infection for a week and had just been put on antibiotics a few days prior to the testing. The surgeon would need me to see my Primary Care Physician as soon as possible to treat as necessary and clear me for surgery. I would also need to be off of antibiotics for a week and have normal WBC 4 days before surgery.

I saw my PCP the following week and my sinus infection wasn’t quite clear, so he ordered another 5 day antibiotic and blood work to be drawn 5 days prior to the new surgery date, 12/22. He explained that  it is extremely important that there is no infection anywhere in the body when having surgery on an area with little blood flow, such as a joint or bone. If any systemic infection gets into those surgery areas, the joint or bone can get infected easily and can rapidly cause the whole body to go septic, which can be fatal. Wow.

Labs came back on 12/21 with a good WBC and I was all cleared for surgery the next day. For a week prior I did everything possible to prepare my body for the best environment possible for healing and recovery. I continued to do PT to strengthen my glute muscles and to make sure my pelvis was in as good of alignment as possible, as after surgery I knew that my body would be compensating for only weight bearing on one side. I drank green juices every day with a variety of vegetables, lemon and ginger to promote healing and flood my tissue with nourishment. I also kept myself hydrated, drinking about 100 oz. of water per day. On the 21st, I knew that I could eat and drink until midnight, but also knew that my digestive system would be impacted by the anesthesia during surgery, so I kept my meals light and avoided red meat. I also drank several packets of Emergen’C loaded with vitamins and minerals, and another green juice with extra ginger.

The day of the surgery they allowed me to take my anti-depressant with a small bit of water, which really helped to keep me calm in the hours prior to leaving for the hospital. I arrived, checked in for my surgery and they took me back right away to get me prepped. While in the pre-op surgery room, I met with my surgeon Dr. Bert who reviewed the surgery, asked me to verbally state what surgery I was having and on what hip, and marked and signed my left hip with a purple sharpie. I also met with the anesthesiologist who reviewed my medical history, my “abnormal/normal-for-me” EKG, and answered all my questions regarding previous concussion and general anesthetic. Dr. Bert chooses to do General Anesthesia (GA) for this type of surgery because of the impact on the sciatic nerve with the position of the leg and hip on the surgery table. The foot of the surgical leg is strapped into a ski boot looking device that tractions the leg away from the hip, which creates more space inside the joint for the camera and tools. If the entire nervous system is shut down during the procedure, there is less risk of sciatic nerve side-effects, and as you can imagine, an impaired sciatic nerve will make recovery and PT rehab more difficult. As I understood it, he also tries to keep the leg traction portion of the surgery under an hour to also reduce the risk of sciatic side effects.

Pre-Op with my husband
Pre-op Thumbs Up selfie with my husband Jeff

After I was prepped and all my questions were answered by my two physicians, the surgical nurse came in and again asked me to verify what surgery I was having and on what hip, and also asked if I had any further questions. She then wheeled me into the OR, which was FREEZING (I think I commented that it was a meat locker), and helped me move from the pre-op hospital bed onto the surgical table. The anesthesiologist talked with me some more, gave me some Versed to “relax” me, continued talking with me about life, and before I knew it, I was waking up in Post-op recovery. 🙂

All went well with my surgery. It was a little shorter than expected, about 1 hour 45 mins from start to finish. I woke up to find my husband there, and was surprisingly alert – although I can’t remember talking to my surgeon post-op, but my husband insists that he was there and I had a conversation with him. 🙂  They injected my joint with morphine at the end of the surgery to immediately reduce post-surgical pain, which lasted about 4 hours ( the perfect window of time for me to fill my Percocet prescription on the way home and start taking later that night). After I had a few crackers and some water, I was given a set of crutches and shown how to use them, and given my post-op instructions. I used the bathroom via wheelchair and then was rolled out of the hospital and helped into my car, and headed home! I chose to take our sedan versus our SUV because I felt it would be easier to drop down into a car with one leg versus climb up into an SUV – good choice! All in all, from arrival at the hospital for check-in to leaving in the wheelchair, my time was about 5 hours. I was given a prescription for pain, nausea and constipation (from the pain medication), a high-powered NSAID, and sleeping medication. I chose to not have the sleeping medication filled because of the extreme addictive qualities, but all others I needed!

Night of Surgery up on walker
First time up on my walker!

That night I was alert enough to be up moving around on a walker – but only toe-pressure weight on my foot, which means only resting the foot when up and about. I quickly found out that walking and maneuvering on one leg was going to be challenging. All the single leg balances and single leg Roman Dead Lifts (RDL’s) that I practiced in PT and training sessions pre-surgery were coming in handy – it’s as if my PT knew that I was going to need those… 😉 I also quickly realized that I needed the raised toilet seat with handles, crutch pads, and compression hose that I purchased pre-surgery with online research of others who had been through the surgery.
The first overnight was tough on me and my husband, and I quickly realized why they gave me a prescription for Ambien. I couldn’t sleep AT ALL. I’m not sure if it was a side effect of the GA, or the morphine, or the Percocet every 4 hours. Or if it was my body’s adrenaline just processing everything it had been through in the previous 24 hours, but it was rough. My poor husband was so worried about me that he couldn’t sleep, and every 2 hours I was getting up to go to the bathroom, which was a 15 minute procss. It felt like we were back in the “newborn baby” phase all over again!! To sleep, I was instructed to only sleep on my back, and no rotation with my surgical hip to protect the repaired labrum. I’m a side sleeper first, and back sleeper second, so I decided to wedge my hips between two heavy pillows as I knew I would be prone to rolling on to my side – my heavy memory foam pillow was wedged on my surgical side to keep me from rolling on the hip, and a heavy feather pillow was wedged on my right side to keep me from rolling right. When I had to get up to go to the bathroom, I found it easiest to slide down toward the foot of the bed instead of pivoting my pelvis and legs to the side of the bed. My husband helped me down onto my good foot – and reminded me repeatedly not to land on my surgical leg – and guided me with the walker to the bathroom. And this is true love – stayed in the bathroom with me to make sure I could get up and down from the toilet without pain. 🙂 Getting back into bed was a little more challenging – I sat at the edge of the foot of the bed and placed my good foot on his thigh, and pushed against him and used my triceps to slide back into sleeping position. Whew. Then repeated it all every 2 hours.

Sleeping Position with two pillows keeping me on my back
Sleeping Position with two pillows keeping me on my back

The day after surgery I received call from the hospital and also my surgeon’s office to see how I was doing and to answer any questions. I also received the Post-Op report per my request, which had a few surprises. My MRI Arthrogram in September had indicated a small labrum tear and possible pincer/CAM FAI combo, however once Dr. Bert got in there, he found the labrum tear to be much larger (anterior from 10-2 o’clock instead of 9-11 o’clock), some degeneration on the posterior labrum, and the pincer/CAM FAI combo. But the biggest surprise was Grade II chondromalacia (bone degeneration) on the femoral head, which was not seen on the MRI despite my physician specifically noting it from review given my medial hip pain. It’s not clear if this was present but not showing in the MRI or if this degeneration happened over the course of 3 months given the larger labrum tear. Regardless, I am VERY happy that I did not wait on surgery! As I understand it, the newest protocol with hip labrum tears and severe chondromalacia is to bypass the repair and go straight to a hip replacement. Had I waited a few months or a year for this surgery there may be been more bone degeneration and I may have needed that surgery instead.

Labrum tear (top) and suturing (middle and bottom)
Labrum tear (top) and suturing (middle and bottom)
Posterior Labrum fraying
Posterior Labrum fraying

Day of Labrum/FAI post-surgery needed items: rolling walker, crutches with extra crutch pads (Crutcheze), raised toilet seat WITH handles (they make standard and elongated toilet versions), compression socks (several pairs), water bottle with loop or handle, pajama pants or loose yoga pants WITH POCKETS, slippers with sturdy sole and a pair of easy slip-on shoes, 3-4 large ice packs (I used the ThearPearl Back wrap – it wraps all around the front and side of the hip), several boxes of breathable band-aids and a box of waterproof band-aids, a shower seat, and for when you are out and about at appointments – a Temporary Handicap decal for Handicap parking! Also, my favorite chair is my glider/recliner, but any chair that puts your hips at no more than 90 degrees flexion will work. Have several good options, I have to rotate between chairs/walking/laying down frequently to keep my hip moving and decrease pressure on the joint. Sitting on low and/or soft couches does not work. A backpack would also be a good idea once you are more mobile, maybe in week 2. It’s difficult carrying things from chair to chair, especially a laptop!

TheraPearl Back Wrap for icing surgery incisions
TheraPearl Back Wrap for icing surgery incisions

I have to say that I am extremely happy with the level of care I have received with Dr. Bert, his MA Jennifer,  and his office staff (Hedley Orthopedic). I am also very happy with the level of care I was given at St. Luke’s Medical Center’s surgical Orthopedic unit. I will be posting Week 1 Day-by-Day surgical recovery also. I am choosing to blog about my medical condition and my experience due to the minimal amount of surgical and post-surgical information on labrum surgery available online, and also the minimal amount of information on labrum tears due to childbirth.


Important Disclaimer  *****These are my opinions and the information I am posting is my own, and is not that of  Dr. Bert, Hedley Orthopedic or St Luke’s Medical Center. Every patient and patient outcome is individual.  My results may not be the results that others experience.****




21 thoughts on “Hip labrum and FAI surgery: Week and Day of Surgery

  1. Rachel,

    It’s so good to hear that your doc was able to repair and deal with the unexpected. Here’s to a solid recovery! Thinking of you as you continue to heal and recover. My best to Jeff, caretaker extraordinaire!


  2. Thank you, Liz! I am very thankful, too. And Jeff has been wonderful, he’s made my recovery a relatively easy one. 🙂

    1. Hi! Fantastic, I would say I’m almost 100% – I have days where my hip is stiff if I’m on my feet too much working, but no pain. I’m so happy with Dr. Bert as my surgeon!

      How are you doing? When was your surgery?

  3. Hi, thank you for sharing your story! I’m having this surgery in June and I appreciated hearing your story

    1. You’re welcome, Ashlee! I’ve shared this to help others who are facing the same surgery. Please reference back to it as you get prepared for it and as you’re recovering – it was amazing how little info was out there, so wanted to share as a resource for others. Keep in touch and let me know how your recovery goes!! ~Rachel

  4. Hi, Thanks for sharing, I am having this surgery in 2 weeks. I am kinda scared! I have had 10 pelvic surgeries over the last 6 years for endometriosis and will have another in the summer but always kinda knew what to expect. This surgery and the sound of traction seems to have me a tad more fearful! I am interested to see if the issue is actually the fai and tear or if they will find adhesions…
    Glad you are doing well! What are your recommendations for chairs to sit in while recovering? I only have 2 couches so may just buy a chair. Any other advice will be much appreciated! Thanks

    1. Hey Kelly! Sorry for the delayed response – Have you had your surgery yet? I had a recliner and rotated between sitting in the recliner and laying flat on the couch to stretch out the front hip/leg muscles. Too much sitting in the first weeks post-surgery compresses the joint and can cause muscle pain. I was most comfortable with rotating between the two for the first three weeks or so. Good luck – keep me posted on how you are doing! ~Rachel

  5. I had FAI surgery in October 2015 and have had no support from my surgeon (top in the field at Rothman Institute) except to first prescribe more pain meds, PT, and an additional MRI which his assistant called me back and said nothing showed. Three post op visits over 6 months and he pretty much just shrugged and sent me on my way. I’ve had muscle/ligament/joint pain ever since the surgery, have gotten a second opinion from a well respected surgeon (who incidentally did not even look at my 6-month post op MRI) who basically said, if you are in enough pain, come see me and we’ll replace your hip for you. I’m 49 and previously pretty active, so I searched for other options. Walking and sleeping have caused the most pain, but PTs (I’ve gone months each with two different PTs) have puzzled over why I either get worse or show little to no improvement.

    Finally found a place that does photobiomodulation and have hit a plateau where I can walk normally. I wish I had gone there first and possibly avoided the surgery. I have scar tissue in my muscles that no surgeon wanted to take the time to find out about. I theorize it was from traction, taking the ball out of the socket during surgery. Working on healing the arthritis, scar tissue and soft tissue damage.

    Would I have the surgery again? Probably not. I would call a year and a half (still not all gone, so “and counting”) of worse pain and difficulty not worth it. I think the procedure is still relatively new, and they really don’t know (or care about) what to do if the outcome is less than successful.

    Oh, and I tried many different kinds of natural remedies, vitamins & minerals, anti-inflammatories, etc. Photobiomodulation for the last 6 months has been the only thing that has gotten me some mobility back (I stretch and do chiropractic, too, of course).

    Best of luck to anyone seeking help. Ask about follow up care, or go cold laser (photobiomodulation), or replacement. You may get better results in the short and long run.

    1. Thank you for sharing your story. Have you tried Neuromuscular Therapy or Myofascial Release Therapy in conjunction with the PT to help with the soft tissue response to the surgery and the scar tissue? This is what helped me recovery with the muscle pain, and my PT incorporated soft tissue work as well. It can be beneficial even after a year to help improve mobility and decrease soft tissue pain. I have worked with a few patients who were over a year post-labrum surgery with good result in tissue change – I would recommend giving it a try! ~Rachel

  6. Hi Rachel,
    I really appreciate your detailed progress report of your FAI surgery. I’m having the same in 2 weeks, looking for any and all helpful advice to prepare. Nervous for sure! But your list of things to have on hand has definitely gotten me motivated to get more ready. Thank you! Gotta remember the dried apricots 😉

    1. You’re welcome! I’m happy to share this info, I’m glad you found this helpful! And yes… apricots!!! 😉 Good luck – make sure you have lots of help and ask for help when you need it, and have a good PT! If you are in Phoenix and I can help with your soft tissue rehab, let me know.

    2. I just had this surgery 2 days ago. Thanks for sharing your journey! It’s reassuring to read other people’s stories. You mentioned receiving the Surgical report. Did you just ask them for it? I had a labral tear, full detachment as well as both CAM impingement and FAI. Would be interesting to read through and see what was found/if there was more going on that just couldn’t be seen on MRI.

      How long did it take for full recovery? Are you back to normal activity or have you had to modify things long term?

  7. I’m having a labrum repair on my left hip on April 28th and am very anxious! Thanks for sharing your experience!!

    1. You’re welcome! I’m happy to share, and glad it’s helpful. Don’t rush your rehab or when you start bearing weight on your leg – be sure to ask for help, and be sure to have a great PT lined up. Good luck – keep me updated!

  8. Thank you so much for this information. I’m having surgery Feb. 5 and am getting anxious about it. Reading your tips helped 🙂

    1. Hi Julie,

      You’re welcome! I wanted to share my experience to help others, so I’m glad to hear this has helped you. You will rock this surgery, just make sure you have a good PT who knows hip labrum rehab, get all the post-surgery items in place, and be patient with the recovery process – don’t rush into doing more than you should. 🙂

      Keep me posted!


  9. I’m 12 weeks post surgery. Suffered for almost 2 years, 2 chiropractors, my orthopedic doc though it was my back even though i told him I also had hip pain but he said to see my back dr, my back doctor thought it was my SI joint so he ordered SI joint injection(never again, so painful), a new mattress, after several visit with massage therapist getting deep tissue fascia release with no relief, the therapist said I should get a second opinion because she suspected a tear. Finally, the new ortho takes an X-ray of my hip and immediately tells me me I have FAI and would like to get a MRI with injection to see if I have a tear. BINGO, we have a winner. 6 weeks of PT prior to surgery because my hip was in bad shape. Surgery complete, DR said I had the largest Cam Impingement he has ever seen, tear was significant and i had a lot of cartilage damage. PT has been tough but my hip improves everyday, I can’t wear any of my shoes I had before I had surgery 🙁 I’ve lost 17 lbs since my surgery date which is AWESOME. Trust you gut, do the PT and remind yourself everyday that the recovery is a slow process but you will recover.

    1. Melissa,

      Thank you for sharing your story. New shoes after surgery are very important – its amazing how much your foot gait changes once the FAI in the hip is corrected. Wishing you continued success with your surgery recovery!!


  10. Yes, thank you for all of the information! I am having the same surgery with Dr Bert in the next month or two. Just waiting for my MRI In a couple days. I am in healthcare, in fact I am an anesthesia provider and have even provided anesthesia for Dr Bert’s surgeries in the past, but I am still nervous! It’s very different being a patient! I will have to go back and review your list of things to have postop. What area of Phoenix do you live in? I am near 101/51.

  11. Hi Rachel

    I wish I had found your blog sooner as I am not quite 24 hours post op!!! My surgeon has been so short with me and not helpful in answering my post op questions. You said you had a recliner-which I do to; it can go from 90 degrees to completely flat. Is one position better then another to help me recover better? Also, once help is gone, how did you kick your leg out to sit or to even get that leg up in to bed? Again, thanks for your insight!!! Right now I’m in the questioning phase of why did I have this surgery 🤪

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