In 2014, Kara Hayslip was a 25-year-old with a strong sense of who she was: a divinity school graduate with plans for humanitarian projects in Nepal. An athlete who had played soccer, volleyball and other sports from childhood through college. A marathon runner-in-training with triathlons in her sights (she’d just bought a bicycle). Then she started having severe pain in her right hip.
She was diagnosed with a tear in her hip labrum, the ring of cartilage that outlines the socket of the hip joint. But nearly a year and several medical referrals later, Hayslip arrived at the office of Duke orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Steven A. Olson, MD, with an additional diagnosis: hip dysplasia.
Hip dysplasia occurs when the ball at the top of your thigh bone isn’t securely fitted into the socket of your hip. “The bones didn’t form correctly, so the ball tries to escape from the socket during movement,” Dr. Olson said. “This stresses the joint and can damage the cartilage.” When cartilage wears away, pain, swelling and stiffness associated with osteoarthritis result.
Hayslip was most likely born with hip dysplasia, although its symptoms didn’t surface until young adulthood. “I never had any pain growing up, and I played lots of sports,” she said. Learning she had a hip problem that would grow more painful as she got older was a big blow. “It felt like an identity crisis, because I had always been such an athletic person,” she said. She put her travel and training plans on hold while she sought a hip dysplasia treatment that would return her to physical activity.