Outcomes: The Patient Experience

It’s not uncommon for people with hip problems to eventually require surgery.

Such candidates are seldom in their teens, however.

Meet Abby Staves. Hip pain had been dogging her since — wait for it — middle school. Perhaps you wouldn’t notice it watching Abby play softball, a sport she was born to play. Turns out the pain was also related to birth – a misshaped hip joint. The growing ache was not necessarily made worse by running bases or fielding ground balls.

“It was especially bad when I was doing nothing at all,” said Abby, “so bad it was keeping me up at night.”

By the end of 8th grade, Abby was already committed to her high school softball pursuits, knowing the team would be training in Florida the following spring. In order to be ready for the trip and her first high school season, Abby decided to have the sur­gery at the conclusion of her summer softball league.

After surgery on her right hip Abby rehabbed, went to Florida, made varsity, and all was good.

Until it wasn’t.

In her sophomore campaign the pain returned, manifesting in both hips. At school Abby would sit in a chair and her left hip would lock up; only after much pain and effort could she stand.

Like many dealing with joint issues, Abby just pushed through it. She kept playing softball at a high level despite increasing levels of pain.

“I knew surgery might be needed eventually,” said Abby, “but I wanted to wait until I completed my high school softball career.”

She knew her days of competitive sports would soon end, but that was okay. She was focused on potential career paths.

Abby had experience with conservative measures — physical therapy, dry needling, laser treatments, KT tape — that provided varying degrees of success, but not the long-term relief she sought.

Fortunately, Abby’s parents had access to health care options through their employer, Great Northern Corporation. The packaging and retail display manufacturer offers health services through NOVO Health, which includes a travel package to a NOVO Health Center of Excellence.

Following her senior season, Abby made her first visit to the nearest NOVO Health orthopedic clinic.

X-rays confirmed that Abby’s left hip was also misshaped. She could easily see the difference between X-rays, as the left revealed a narrow gap between the ball and socket, while the surgically repaired right had a significantly larger gap, which allowed for smooth gliding.

By this time, the now 19-year-old was in constant pain and relished the idea of getting into surgery ASAP. A packed schedule and COVID restrictions provided challenges, but the clinic was able to accommodate Abby with a timely surgical appointment.

Using the NOVO Health travel package, Abby and her mom were put up in a hotel and provided meal allowances.

“We had a super nice hotel, ate where we wanted, and were close to the surgery center,” said Abby. “It was nice to be set up and ready to go and not have to worry.”

Following successful surgery on her hip, Abby is feeling good and 100% focused on her chosen area of study: she’s enrolled in an EMT program and studying to be a paramedic technician. The busy student insisted on taking a moment for final thoughts on her experience.

“The people who helped me are amazing,” she said. “They listen to their patients and are so accommo­dating. I loved my surgeon, the anesthesiologist, the nurses. They are all phenomenal at what they do.”

Scott Hutchinson

Scott Hutchinson

Scott Hutchinson is a writer and content creator for NOVO Health.

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