Carrie — Physical Therapy Patient Story

Carrie Vaccaro

A long distance runner, Carrie spent 8 months running local trails to prepare for the 2014 Pittsburgh Marathon. She continued her training runs even when she developed pain in her hips.

“I put months of hard work and training into the race. I didn’t want it to be for nothing!” says Carrie, 36, of McCandless.

The mother of two young boys, Carrie completed the 26.2-mile marathon despite severe pain in her hips, pelvis, and abdomen. Weeks later, an MRI showed she had FAI (femoral acetabular impingement) and a labral tear in her left hip.

At first, she tried physical therapy (PT) to strengthen her hip and glutes, but 6 months after the marathon, she underwent arthroscopic surgery on her hip. After the operation, Carrie resumed PT, working with Craig Maartmann-Moe, DPT, Cert. MDT, CSCS, facility director and physical therapist at the McCandless location of UPMC Centers for Rehab Services, located just minutes from her home.

But Carrie’s story didn’t end there. Although the hip arthroscopy resolved her left hip pain, she continued to experience terrible pelvic, back, and abdominal pain. She underwent a second surgery for core muscle tearing, or athletic pubalgia … then another hip arthroscopy to repair a labral tear and FAI in her right hip … and, finally, a fourth surgery to resect the nerves in her abdomen, which were entrapped in scar tissue.

Through it all, Carrie continued PT with Craig, who specializes in hips. He worked closely with Carrie’s surgeons to develop the best possible plan for her needs and goals.

“My pain was gone as soon as I woke up from my last surgery in March 2016,” recalls Carrie. “All of the pain and pressure that I experienced for nearly two years disappeared.”

Carrie says her recovery has been “amazing”. Two months after her fourth operation, she started running again.

“Craig never gave up on me, even when it seemed like everything was wrong. He was thorough and able to identify and treat the many different sources of pain,” she shares. “He kept me calm and focused during the toughest time of my life.”

Carrie also credits him for understanding her fierce desire to get back to running, working to build her strength and endurance. She’s now running long distance, training for a half-marathon, and planning to run a full marathon within the year.

“He pushed me to my limits, teaching me about my injury and the importance of strong hips and glutes. He also taught me to be more attuned to my body and not to ignore pain,” Carrie says. “It’s hard to believe that a year ago I had difficulty walking. I’ve made a full recovery and I’m stronger than I’ve ever been.”

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