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Pain Appears, It’s Time To Seek Help

Hip pain becomes more common as we age, but it can also sideline young athletes. Luckily, the specialized radiologists at Touchstone Imaging can help quickly diagnose injuries so you can get back to living pain-free.

Lacey is starting her senior year stressed out. And it’s not because of the college applications she has to fill out soon. A top-ranked high school runner in Colorado, Lacey has been looking forward to her final season with the track and field team before most of them head to university. But nagging pain around her groin and hip has her worried about the upcoming season.

Janelle, Lacey’s mother, is used to balancing her family’s hectic schedules and medical appointments. While she may be more likely to ignore her own pain, taking the “walk it off” mentality, she quickly jumps into action when there is an issue with one of her children.

The orthopedist Janelle makes an appointment with has good and bad news: He’s pretty sure Lacey has a labral tear. Ugh. But there’s positive information to share, too. Though the injury could require surgery, it may also be resolved with physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medications. (Surgery would require a six- to eight-month recovery, but, Lacey realizes, she could be healed just in time for the season.) The orthopedist refers Janelle and Lacey to Touchstone Imaging for confirmation.

Thanks to Touchstone’s extended evening and weekend hours, Lacey is able to get in for an MRI arthrogram the following day. The sophisticated imaging involves injecting the hip joint with a special fluid; this makes any tears easier to see and diagnose. (It’s not painful. The skin is numbed with a topic anesthetic before the injection.) During the procedure, the radiologist will also check for any other issues in her hip, like bone abnormalities or tendon tears, that could be problematic.

“Imaging is helpful from a few perspectives,” says Dr. Gregory Broering, a musculoskeletal radiologist with Touchstone. “An MRI would confirm a labral tear diagnosis. Second, it would visualize it, which is helpful from a surgical planning standpoint—it gives the surgeon a good idea of where the tear is and how large is it, which may influence their surgical decisions. And it would exclude other potential sources of pain.”

Like Dr. Broering, all of Touchstone’s radiologists have subspecialized fellowship training. That means they completed an extra year of instruction in a particular specialty, such as pediatrics or neurology. That puts Lacey’s mom at ease. As does the fact that Touchstone is covered by most insurance plans and costs up to 60 percent less than hospital imaging.

After the easy, hour-long imaging procedure, Lacey and her mom leave the office with a patient-friendly report that explains all the medical jargon and helps them feel educated on exactly what’s going on before they reconnect with their orthopedist the following week. “They have the chance to look at the report and digest it,” says Dr. John S. Xenos of Colorado Orthopedics, which refers to Touchstone. “Patients can come to me, and the level of discussion is much better because they already ready the report and have a little better understanding. The questions they ask are a little more advanced.”

In Lacey’s case, the labral tear is verified, and her doctor recommends physical therapy as a first step. Surgery is still an option if that’s not successful. Because she was able to get the imaging so quickly, her diagnosis was prompt too. That makes Lacey hopeful she’ll be running again soon. For now, she’s happy to know she’ll be starting her senior year with less pain. And for Janelle she is happy to have the answers they need and a plan to keep Lacey active in the near future.