Tuesday, August 23, 2011


So, I had foolishly read a number of stories online about how horrifically painful it is to have to dye injected for the arthrogram and not surprisingly, I was pretty anxious heading into the Xray department at the hospital this morning.  However, a few friends told me they'd had the same procedure and found it more than manageable so I tried to keep that in focus.
A little background info, for those who do not read my blog on a regular basis.  I have some very mild arthritis and small bones spurs in my hips. I've had some nagging mild pain when I move my hip in certain positions but nothing too bothersome, and definitely nothing that has directly affected my swim, bike, run.  My PT, Chiro, and I have discussed the possibility that I could be compensating for my affected hip and this may be causing some of the running injuries I seem to suffer with, but we really don't know for sure.

Fast forward to this past winter.  At the end of December, and in early January, Erik and I started skate skiing. I found it really hard and challenging but I liked it, so I spent  about 3 hours the first day practicing the lateral movement over and over again, trying to get the hang of it. Naturally, the next day, I was sore, and I mean REALLY sore, especially my groin muscles and adductors.

That evening, I bent down to pick something up and something in my left hip snapped, sending me to the ground, writhing in agony.  It lasted for a few minutes and then subsided.  I thought that obviously I'd really pushed too hard and would need to take a few more days to heal. I was super careful not to turn my left knee out as that was the movement that seemed to make it snap.  Within a few days, the wort was over but I continued to have a lot of nagging pain and I had to be really careful with my left hip when I was skate skiing.

For the next few months. I tried a number of treatments from ART to IMS but nothing seemed to last. Finally, the Chiro recommended I get an xray, and my doctor recommended I also see a sport specialist who diagnosed it as a likely a torn labrum.  You can see more info about that in my blog here.

In early May, I was put on the waitlist for an MRI, expecting to wait 8-10 months, and was told I could continue to swim, bike, run so long as I was not suffering any pain. By this time, skate ski season was done anyway so it wasn't too difficult to avoid the movements that cause pain. Then last week, only 3 months later. I got a call to come in for my MRI!  and that brings us up to today.

So what was it REALLY like?

I arrived at the xray department at 8am - I was allowed to have a normal breakfast (I didn't eat because I was too nervous), but no makeup, no hair product, no jewelry.  I knew I was going to be anxious so I took 1mg of ativan as soon as I got to the hospital (I had my own and they said it was fine to take it). It really helped make me feel much less anxious.

I checked in and waited in a chair for about 10 minutes, then I was given a gown to wear and I packed my clothes into a bag, filled out a checklist form, and was left to wait in another chair for about 15 minutes.

Then I was brought into an xray room and I had to lay on a bed. He exposed my hip, cleaned it with iodine stuff, and brought the xray machine over top of it so he could watch what he was doing when he inserted the needles. I choose to stare off in space and not look at the needles.  I also was prepared to dig my nails into my forearm if anything hurt so I could take my attention away from the source of pain.

The doctor was very good.  He told me exactly what he was doing at all times and was quick. First he injected some freezing into my hip. I barely felt the needle go in and only a small amount of burning as the freezing went in. This literally only lasted a few seconds and didn't bother me at all.

Then he took some time to insert a (or possibly more than one) needle into my hip so the dye would get right into the joint space. I felt no pain when he did this other than a little pressure.

Once he had it exactly where he wanted it, he told me he was going to inject the dye and that I would feel pressure as the joint filled up.  It definitely felt pressure, tight, and a bit of an overall ache but nothing I would categorize as "painful". As soon as he took the needle(s) out and I could move my leg a bit, it felt much better and from then on, nothing hurt at all.

I was moved to a wheelchair and moved to the MRI area.  The person ahead of me had moved during their MRI so they had to redo a section so I waited there for about 15-20 minutes. It was hard to tell because I was kind of buzzed out on the ativan.

Finally it was my turn.  I got up on the table, they gave me ear plugs, and put some sort of harness thing on my chest and some pads under my arms which were stretched out. I was also given a ball to hold and squeeze if I needed help for any reason. They made sure I was comfortable because I wasn't allowed to move for 30 minutes. At that point I was really glad I had the ativan because I am a pretty fidgety person at the best of times.  They slid me into the tube and started up the machine. It was REALLY loud, even with my ear plugs, and it made a lot of different sounds, kind of like a machine gun or a jack hammer. Although nothing was touching me, I could feel pressure from the sounds on my hip and groin.  Weird.  I just dozed off and on, they would talk to me once in awhile and let me know things were going well and ask how I was doing. Finally it was over, I changed back into my clothes, called Erik and he came to pick me up.

The freezing started to come out in about an hour and my hip is sore and feels a bit weak, and affects my range of motion. They told me to take it easy today and just relax so I have.  Always nice to have a forced rest day. :) :)

SO - if you are ever going to have a hip arthrogram, DON'T read up on it on the internet. This was definitely not a painful procedure.  Most of the stuff I've had done on physio is MUCH more painful. :)

And so, the doctor is supposed to get my report on Friday so I made an appt at 11:45.  Unfortunately, the doctor who recommended the MRI is on holiday until mid September so I will be seeing somebody else. That may be a good thing though - maybe I'll have two opinons then.

There are lots of ways to deal with and treat a torn labrum, IF that's what I have. Here is a link with some good information.  I am hoping to find a non surgical treatment if possible - we shall see.

1 comment:

Erin said...

Great to hear Barb. That is what I meant, its not really painful, but just uncomfortable pressure at times. Lack in range of motion also felt awkward, but not painful!

I made the same mistake as you, reading online. Silly us!