Living life to its fullest can mean different things to different people.
The ability to enjoy a favorite sport or exercise program, spend time
with loved ones and live independently are all aspects of life that can
provide deep meaning and joy. For Pamela Nutgrass, living her life to
its fullest meant walks and bike rides in her new neighborhood, a restful
night’s sleep and attending yoga class: activities that she could
no longer enjoy due to severe hip pain.
“I may have fallen. At the time, I was preparing the house for sale
and doing lots of cleaning, but I honestly can’t recall an inciting
incident,” says Ms. Nutgrass, describing when and how the pain began.
“But the pain just kept getting worse. It got to the point where
I couldn’t do yoga or even walk around the block. Going from a sitting
or laying position, such as getting out of bed in the morning, hurt terribly.
I couldn’t even sleep soundly because of the pain when I’d
roll onto my side.”
Ms. Nutgrass first began experiencing hip pain in the fall of 2016, but
she postponed scheduling an appointment to discuss treatment options until
May of 2017. “I’d had surgery in the past,” she recalls,
explaining her hesitance, “so even though this procedure would likely
be outpatient, I still wanted to avoid it.” After five months of
trying several non-invasive treatments, physical therapies and seeing
a variety of specialists, it seemed as if she had exhausted all of her
efforts without experiencing any relief from her hip pain. Until
Beau Sasser, M.D., board-certified orthopaedic surgeon with
Summit Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Surgery, a strategic affiliate of Southeast Georgia Health System, shared some
interesting insights regarding the cause of her pain.
“Many patients enter my office thinking they are experiencing hip
pain, and in some cases, they truly are. Others are actually experiencing
pain caused by hip bursitis,” Dr. Sasser explains. “Hip bursitis,
known as greater trochanteric bursitis, involves the small, jelly-like
sacs called bursa. They become irritated and inflamed, resulting in localized
pain over the bony prominence of the hip, called the greater trochanter.
Typically, the pain is worse at night when lying on the affected hip,
or while getting up from a chair after being seated for an extended period
of time. It can also get worse with prolonged walking, stair climbing
Dr. Sasser agreed to try further non-invasive treatments to assist Ms.
Nutgrass in her continued efforts to avoid surgery. Her treatments included
injections to the bursa, physical therapy and dry needling. The treatments
were effective for the short term, but after a few weeks, the pain would return.
“Surgery is rarely needed for hip bursitis but can be very effective
for people who fail conservative treatment,” Dr. Sasser explains.
“Removing the bursa is performed using an arthroscopic technique
that only requires two quarter-inch incisions. A small camera, or arthroscope,
is placed under the skin through one incision while the other incision
is used to place small instruments to cut out the bursa. This surgery
is less invasive and recovery is quicker and less painful than traditional
In March 2018, Ms. Nutgrass decided that it was time to heed Dr. Sasser’s
recommendation and get the surgery she’d been avoiding.
But what she really got was her life back.
“Before surgery, one hour of sitting or remaining stationary used
to really hurt,” says Ms. Nutgrass. “One week after surgery,
the stiches were removed, and I left for a two week vacation to Colorado.
I flew there and drove all the way back without a problem. I never would
have been able to endure a trip like that before surgery.”
After one month post-surgery, Ms. Nutgrass returned to walking around her
new neighborhood and is enjoying the yoga class she’d been missing
out on for so long, once again living life to its fullest.
To learn more about the services provided at Summit Sports Medicine &
Orthopaedic Surgery, visit