What a difference three weeks make – PAO recovery weeks 5 – 7

After week 4, the rehabilitation work begins. My time is now increasingly taken up with physiotherapy exercises and attending hospital appointments.

Week 5 sees the first of my physiotherapy appointments.  Having seen all the amazing feats of athleticism that other PAO-ers are able to achieve after 5 weeks, I’m rather nervous that my physiotherapist will be disappointed with me.  But no – in fact, she’s really impressed!  This is a big relief to me, as I was starting to wonder if my pain levels at this stage were rather high.   She suggests I add in an abdominal exercise to the exercises I was given when I left the hospital, and books me in for hydrotherapy in week 7 (of which more later).

Pleasingly, she also marvelled at the rate at which my scar is healing, and at how neat it is.  You can judge for yourself here!

I did not pick the glue off this scar at ALL. Definitely not. No.

This photograph was taken in week 4.  I think it looks a lot worse in the photo than it does in real life, actually. You can see that the glue covering the incision is starting to peel off, and it’s very difficult to refrain from helping it along.  The peeling increases after I discover that I can wangle myself into the bathtub at last.  This is heaven.  I spend a long time in the bath every morning.   It really seems to help with the achey feelings I get when I wake up.   There is still some weird numbness along the incision site and radiating down my thigh – but the area affected by this is decreasing every week.

Week 6 sees me head up to London for my check-up at UCLH – and the surgeon also seems really pleased with my progress.  ‘I did that!’ he says with a rather endearing level of smugness, as he checks over my incision.  He’s also happy with the new X-rays, which show that my pelvis is starting to heal.

So, now I’m expected to put full weight through my operated leg – although still using two crutches.  ‘Let’s give you a test’, says the surgeon.  ‘Stand on your left leg.  Lift up your operated leg.  Good’, he says, as I wobble about.  ‘Now, try the same on your right leg’.  I attempt to lift my good leg off the floor and put all my weight through my operated leg.  Ouuch – but I manage it for about, ooh, half a second.  The surgeon actually chuckles.

He gives me some new physiotherapy exercises which, at first, I find really tough.  I wonder if he’s overestimated my recovery level, even though my mobility and energy are continuing to improve.

The new exercises I have to do are:

1) Lying on back, keep operated leg straight and raise it into the air.  Repeat 20 times

2) Lying on back, bend the knee on your operated side and lift your leg towards your chest.  Hold your knee and pull your leg towards your chest.  Hold for 20 seconds, repeat 15 times.

3) Lying on your side (operated leg upwards), keep your operated leg straight and raise your leg, keeping it parallel to the lower leg.  Repeat 25 times.

25 reps?  Oh please! The first time I tried this, I could barely do one.  After a week or so, however, it gets easier.  My hip starts to feel more stable, and I feel as if the movements are more controlled.

By week 7,  I’m used to the pain of carrying out the exercises and reassured that the hurt is not making my hips worse.   Of course, I’m still not improving as fast as I’d like, but my physiotherapist rolls her eyes at this.  ‘What do you want?’ she says.  ‘I’m amazed you can do those exercises and that number of reps.  Your pelvis was broken in 3 places!’.   She tells me that the pain is due to the inflammation still present and to the fact that the muscles and ligaments are being pulled and stretched differently now that my pelvis is screwed into a different position. She seems genuinely impressed with how I’m getting along, and tells me not to overdo it.  Nonetheless, I persuade her to let me try a few minutes on a stationary bike, and she gives me a new set of exercises that I can do at home with a gym ball.  So I have plenty to work on!  I also start hydrotherapy this week – and in chest-deep, warm water I discover I can walk without pain and without a limp.  It feels heavenly.

And finally – all the lounging in the bath and hydrotherapy sees off the last of the glue surrounding my incision.  Here it is – again, I think it looks rather more graphic in this photo than in real life, but what a difference from the photo above!  The ridge above the incision line is partly caused by the heads of the three screws holding my pelvis together – they do stick out a little, but that’s probably more to do with the fact that I’m quite slim.  I’ve been told that all the screws will be removed one my second PAO is done.  In the meantime, I’m starting to feel that I’m getting my life back!

Incision at 7 weeks.

Leave a comment


  1. Lye

     /  September 28, 2012

    Your scar looks great! I’m envious (I scar badly). May I ask how long is it roughly? Please continue to update your blog, though I’m sure you’ll be buiser now that you’re getting more mobile.

    • Hi there Lye. Sorry for being slack about updating the blog – I will get back to it I promise! Sorry to hear you scar badly – though to be honest I’m also surprised at how well this one of mine turned out! It’s almost exactly 4 inches long and right on the crease of my groin, so I expect it to fade pretty well now. I am moisturising it every day to help it along! 🙂

  2. becky

     /  November 11, 2012

    can u wear a bikini without the scars showing as i don’t want mine to show as i have scars from my last op on my hip and have only been wearing bikinis the last couple of years with confidence .

    • Hi Becky – yes, I can wear a bikini no problems! My scar is positioned right along the crease where the side of my bikini sits. It doesn’t show at all – and even when I started hydrotherapy a few weeks after the PAO, the scar was not visible. Now, 5 months on, it’s faded to a very thin, silvery line. It doesn’t bother me at all. The screws are a little more visible, but that’s because I’m quite slim – and they will be taken out eventually, so they aren’t permanent. I hope that puts your mind at rest..

      • beckytait_3@hotmail.com

         /  January 20, 2013

        thanks for getting back to me i have had the op now and i cant beleave how long its taking to recover its takeing longer than i thought but im getting there. how r u now do u think its worth the wait

      • Hi Becky – it’s been 5 1/2 months now, and yes, I can promise you it’s worth the wait. I can already walk further than I could before, and I have still got my left PAO to go! I am in less pain in my right hip than before, although there are still some times when I get into an awkward position which makes me wince! You must be about 8 weeks post-op now, and I promise you it will keep getting better. I too got frustrated that my progress seemed so slow, but it is seriously major surgery, so have faith that it will get better. When I was worried about my pain levels I did contact Mr Witt, and he was very helpful and reassuring, so if there’s anything specific that is concerning you, please get in touch with your surgeon and put your mind at rest. Take care and keep in touch with how you’re getting on! X

      • beckytait_3@hotmail.com

         /  January 22, 2013

        thank you and i will i think im going to need the op on my left hip in the end to as before this op i got told that the other hip is going the same way and im in pain with the other hip to but trying to put it off as i dont want to go through this again. i start my hydro 2day so hopfully that will help x

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