After undergoing additional tests Wednesday morning, Gaga announced that she needs surgery for a “labral tear of the right hip,” an injury that is not uncommon for very active people her age, according to Dr. Alexis Colvin, an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in sports medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai in New York City.
“Athletes who are doing twisting sports or rotating their hips out a lot, like hockey goalies, [tend to get this injury],” said Colvin, who is not treating Gaga, but has treated similar injuries. “It could be from repeated twisting and turning from dancing. She’s like an athlete, but she sings.”
Colvin said this injury is one you typically see in people Gaga’s age (26), and given the physically demanding nature of the singer’s live show it is not surprising she could have this kind of problem.
Gaga first alerted her Little Monsters to the issue plaguing her following a performance in Montreal on Monday night. “I’ve been hiding a show injury and chronic pain for sometime now,” she wrote on Twitter. “Over the last month it has worsened. I’ve been praying it would heal.”
But after enduring pain during the Montreal show, she said, “I hid it from my staff, I didn’t want to disappoint my amazing fans. However after last nights performance I could not walk and still can’t.”
Dr. Colvin explained that the hip joint is like a ball in a cup and while the bones themselves are covered with cartilage, the rim of the cup is lined by a collagen lining called the labrum. Given what she has read about Gaga’s injury, Colvin said it sounded like the singer has likely tried the first line of defense against the pain of a labrum tear, which typically involves physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications and possibly a cortisone shot in the hip.
“Some do have pain relief with that, but it doesn’t heal the tear,” said Colvin. “If you still have pain and you’re active it can prevent you from doing stuff. The fact that she’s having surgery probably means she’s done all the other things you would normally try to calm the pain.”
Asked if Gaga’s preference for tall, often unwieldy footwear could have caused weakness or made her more prone to injury, Colvin doubted it. “She’s probably used to it [tall shoes] by now,” she said. “If it was someone who didn’t know how to walk in them or whose body was not used to them it could cause an injury, but her body has probably adapted.”
As for what kind of surgery Mother Monster’s facing, Colvin said the procedure is done arthroscopically, with a small camera inserted into the affected area to look at the damage, followed by other tools that either sew the labrum back down to the bone or trim the area around the tear.
Depending on the extent of the damage, Colvin said a patient is typically on crutches for two to four weeks, and then can be back performing within three-to-six months depending on how the physical therapy goes. The good news is that given her age and athleticism, Colvin suspected a successful surgery means that Gaga should be able to bounce back with no problem.