For this blog I would like to introduce Shuana. Her story takes us away from the world of DDH and introduces us to SUFE, Slipped Upper Femoral Epiphysis, something I had never heard about till I found her through my Instagram. Hopefully sharing this story can help us spread the support even further.
Hi my name is Shauna and I’m 20 years old. Unlike most cases of young hip replacements that I came across when searching the internet - not that I could find many my age - I did not have DDH as a child. Instead my hip problems developed when I was 10 years old and had a Slipped Upper Femoral Epiphysis, SUFE, which resulted in a fracture after my left femur slipped. Before this I had minor joint pain which I dismissed as ‘growing pains’ etc and later found out it is hard to detect SUFE in a child before it fully slips due to the range of symptoms.
While in school I twisted quickly and the strain on my hip caused it to fracture.
I had the procedure repeated twice more as it failed again the second time. After the third I was put on bed-rest for two weeks and wheelchair bound for several weeks allowing the hip more time to heal before going to non-weight bearing on crutches and then to partially weight baring, etc.
Due to these procedures, I then had several problems with my hip, joint pain, an obvious limp and my legs natural position was pointing out. To improve my limp I underwent a procedure on my right knee, the opposite leg to my hip problems, to damage my growth plate and cease the growth in the hope it would minimise the leg length difference. A year later I underwent a femoral osteotomy, this was very painful and required a longer stay in hospital. The aim was to rotate my leg, but it didn’t have the obvious effect wanted, a risk I had to take. Finally I had the metal work removed. Although these procedures were aimed to improve my problems with walking and the pain, they only worked short term for me.
To help with my pain I have been taking painkillers daily since I was around 13. Over the years I have ended up on stronger pain relief requiring prescriptions from my GP. I was told after the metal work removal the only procedure I could have to improve my walking, pain and limp would be a total hip replacement, THR. Aged just 16 I put this to the back of my mind, I was determined I would not have the procedure and carried on as normal as possible.
At age 18, things became a lot worse, pain became constant and more severe. At this point I had started working in theatre and knew more regarding hip procedures. After an MRI I spoke to my consultant regarding the possibility of an arthroscopy to help minimise the pain. However, my hip joint was now so bad that this would not help me, again the only surgical option was a hip replacement or to try a hip steroid injection. I had my hip injection a few weeks later and unfortunately it did not help me at all.
At the start of 2015 I decided I had finally had enough. I was in constant pain, no matter what I did, and was always counting down till my next tablets. I struggled walking long distances, working shifts and exercising. I would be limping from the start of the day until the end and struggled sleeping through the pain, this made me tired and exhausted pretty much all of the time.
In July I had a left THR at my local private hospital. I was lucky enough to be able to choose my surgeon and the timing of my procedure so it could fit in around my university course, allowing me to carry on my studies without a gap year. As I had left it so long, the hip was severely damaged causing complications such as a bowing femur and a large amount of scar tissue, especially on my sciatic nerve. Although the procedure itself was painful and the recovery in the first few weeks was tough and frustrating, I have not looked back since.
For the first time I can remember since my operations in 2006, I have no pain whatsoever and am completely off pain killers! My leg faces forward and I have no leg length difference meaning I no longer have a limp.
I am now ten weeks post op and am the happiest and healthiest I have been in a very long time. I came off crutches just over two weeks post op and was able to walk up the stairs normally. My consultant saw me at six weeks and lifted most of the restrictions, such as bending and twisting, and I could drive again!
I was lucky to have a good team around me throughout which I believe has helped me maximise my recovery. This included physio daily/ twice daily in hospital, weekly physiotherapy sessions and several hydrotherapy sessions since discharge. Since week 8 I have back at university, back in the gym and I’ve got my social life back. For the first time in years I feel normal again and can’t wait to see what I can achieve without constant pain ruling my life!