FAI (Femoro-acetabular Impingement) & Karate

My personal experience with FAI and what you should know about this condition

Introduction

I began practicing Shotokan Karate in 1982, at the age of 15. My bones were still developing at that point and the intense exercise took its toll over the years. I started noticing pain in my hips in 2000, which intensified in 2001, prompting my first visit to an orthopedist. It was determined that I had arthritis in my hips.

The pain further increased over the years since then. I had seen several doctors regarding my condition and they fairly unanimously suggested that I ease off as much as possible on karate and other activities and plan on getting a total hip replacement when I could no longer bear the pain. I did ease off but have never felt it would be worth it to more drastically reduce my karate activities. Much of my success in life has been in some way related to my involvement in karate. It has made me the person I am today.

Fortunately, in 2007, I found a doctor who specialized in the specific condition (FAI) that I have. Femoro-acetabular impingement is a condition primarily found in those who were very athletic while their bones were still developing. Thus many professional and collegiate athletes, mostly in their late 20′s to early 40′s (but also as young as teenagers and much older) are being diagnosed with this condition as its most likely causes have been understood in the past 10 years or so.

I underwent my first surgery on Dec 17, 2007 (left hip).  The next was Feb 4, 2008 (right hip). Then I had a total replacement on Dec 23, 2008 (left hip).  Finally, I had another total replacement on May 8, 2013 (right hip).  This blog is meant to provide a glimpse into my personal experience with this condition and my recovery, in the hope that others may learn from it.

Comments

  1. lgm
    December 24th, 2007 | 7:14 am

    Jon, I would like to emphathize with your pain. I have had back pains since 25 years ago, and it has not really left me even for a day, although I haven’t not had frequent severe attacks for the last few years. My right knee which was severely lacerated in a car accident, where part of my knee cap was removed in an operation, now is afflicted with arthritis. I have gout attacks on both of my feet now and then. I have a recurring right tennis elbow and had almost 2 years of plantar fasciitis on both feet several years back. Yes, I know how it is to live with pain.

    Our pain is ours to bear, however. No one can feel our own physical pain, except us. We can describe it to others, but they will never feel the way we feel.

    Remain strong and resilient. Life with pain is still better than non-life, whatever the pessimists say. I’m glad you had your surgery. I sincerely hope it will successfully alleviate your condition and let you continue doing karate that you most enjoy for some more years, even if only to a less strenous way now.

    Gene

  2. torival
    January 13th, 2009 | 7:31 pm

    Hey Sensei!

    I am glad to hear your are improving and still have the old “Keeling” spirit, by that I mean keeping a very positive attitude. You certainly have taught me to respect my body and learn safer ways to train, and for that reason I am still able to still practice Karate after so many years (and many stops and starts!)

    When I spoke to Sensei Hoopes recently I shared that I had recently had surgery, and he kindly reminded me that I could
    practice even reviewing my kata while recovering, that way remaining in my training. It’s because of excellent teachers like you that my training has influenced so many aspects of my everyday life in a very positive way.

    So, OSU! And don’t forget that if you need any help or Bodywork, please don’t hesitate to call on me.

    Tori

  3. Edward Ponder
    June 4th, 2011 | 2:28 pm

    osu Sensei Jon

    I discovered my F.A.I just recently after three years of Karate. I am still managing to train just cutting out all kicks and long and wide stance. Never though I would find a blog like yous i.e karate and F.A.I. Thank you for posting it. All the best for your recovery.

    Cheers Ed

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