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Mia: Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Patient Story

High school junior Mia has made history in her cross country career, but it's been far from an easy road.Mias headshot.

Beyond the intense training, including running more than 50 miles per week, she was having excruciating hip pain. It was the type of pain that shoots through you, then endlessly lingers and aches.

Thankfully, she found the care she needed at UPMC and got back to her record-breaking runs.

Making Cross Country History

Mia has been running since sixth grade and has improved with every stride.

After missing nationals due to hip pain, she bounced back to have an undefeated junior cross country season in 2020.

Not to mention, she also won the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) Class 3A championship in Hershey for the second year in a row. She finished with a time of 18:28.

The PIAA began girls cross country championships more than 40 years ago. Since then, Mia is only the 2nd runner from the Western Pa. Interscholastic Athletic League (WPIAL) to win back-to-back Class 3A state titles.

Mia just placed 9th in a national meet in November. She's always up for more competition and more chances to show the running world what she can do.

And she started thinking about where college sports may take her.

“Running is a huge part of my life. It consumes me a lot, but I have a very strong passion to run. It has shaped me as a person and become a part of me," Mia says.

Treating Unbearable Hip Pain

So, what caused her to back out after qualifying for 2019 nationals in San Diego? It was the unbearable pain in her right hip.

Her pain started her freshman year and steadily got worse. It just wouldn't seem to go away. December 2019 through the summer of 2020 had Mia continually searching for a real solution while attempting to keep running.

She went from doctor to doctor, PT to PT, until she found Dr. Onishi.

“Nothing got my hip to where it needed to be up until that point," says Mia.

Kentaro Onishi, DO, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) and Department of Orthopedic Surgery, saw Mia and her mom. They saw Dr. Onishi at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry Township at the start of the cross country season.

An ultrasound helped him diagnose her with severe inflammation in the muscle around the outside and back of hip. A type of hip impingement was causing the swelling and pain.

Dr. Onishi then gave Mia an ultrasound-guided injection. It was like night and day for Mia's hip, and she was able to return to training within a few days.

Getting Back in the Race

After the cortisone shot and some rounds of physical therapy with Cara Troutman-Enseki, DPT – Mia was again on her way to great success.Mias race photo.

She describes the PT as being “so different" than the PT she had tried over the prior several months. That's because Cara tailored Mia's PT to her as a person and a runner. 

The injection option is ideal for runners who don't like to take much time off from training. It can help reduce inflammation in soft tissues, like muscles and tendons, and ease symptoms with little downtime.

“I've now had little to no pain at all. It's amazing considering that I wasn't even walking correctly after races earlier this year," says Mia.

Dr. Onishi reassessed her about 8 weeks after the injection, and Mia describes it as smooth sailing ever since. 

As Mia trains for a hopeful junior track season, and then senior cross country and track seasons, Dr. Onishi stays in touch. He wants to be sure she's doing well and to offer words of advice as both a physiatrist and runner himself.

“Dr. Onishi saved my season. I'm so grateful that we found the right person to help me get back to running without pain."

Make an Appointment

Call 1-800-533-8762 to make an appointment with a doctor from the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.