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Alex Addis has been an active person her whole life, and she played year-round sports growing up. She said, “You name a sport- I’ve probably done it.” Softball was her main sport throughout her high school career. From then on into adulthood, she became a beachbody coach and then an avid weightlifter.

When she was 15, Alex was in a car accident that affected the entire right side of her body from that point forward. Although the specific cause is unknown, the car accident was most likely the starting point for her chronic hip pain, which grew unbearable into her early twenties.

Alex’s Diagnosis

Her aches and pains worsened and came in waves for months. “I was constantly in a lot of pain – There was always a lot of clicking and catching sensations in my hip, and my hip socket always felt unstable when I’d walk,” Alex said.

When she was about 24, right before she married, Alex asked to see a hip specialist at Orthoillinois. It just so happened to be that Dr. Van Thiel was in the office that day, so he saw her right away and took a deep look at her case. Alex knew she had bursitis, as previously diagnosed by other physicians, but had always felt there was something else wrong that previous doctors had missed.

Dr. Van Thiel requested an MRI, which found some small tears and fluid buildup around her right hip joint. She was shocked that something so small could hurt so bad, to the point where she couldn’t function doing daily activities, let alone sports. Dr. Van Thiel recommended she try physical therapy and cortisone injections before resulting to surgery, as surgery should always be the last stop, he told her.

Alex’s Procedure

After alternative treatments failed to work for Alex, she scheduled a Femoroacetabular Impingement (FAI) procedure with Dr. Van Thiel. FAI occurs when one or both bones that comprise the hip joint grow abnormally, resulting in a poor “fit” inside the joint. The procedure involves cleaning up the bone spurs or overgrowths and the damaged cartilage so the joint can move easily within the hip socket.

Following the procedure, Alex felt immediate relief. She said, “It was literally amazing. It was probably the best thing I could have ever done for myself because my quality of life drastically improved.”


While her recovery was still extensive with physical therapy to strengthen her hip again, Alex finished PT two weeks early due to her great progression and got back to her athletic training, pain free. However, Dr. Van Thiel had warned her that it is possible for one hip to mimic the other hip, which is what happened in this case.

Alex underwent her second surgery for her right hip in April of 2021. With her determined nature, she started going back to the gym two weeks later following Dr. Van Thiel’s protocol. By October, Alex was in the gym five days per week.

She said, “I’m probably lifting heavier now than I did when I was in my early twenties. I feel so much better.”

Why Dr. Van Thiel

Alex explained what made a positive difference for her orthopedic experience with Dr. Van Thiel:

“The first doctor that I dealt with barely said two words to me. He said, ‘It’s probably bursitis, so go get some anti-inflammatory medication.’ I knew I was too young to be in this much pain all the time. Dr. Van Thiel educated me. He would always show me how my hip worked, really going into the details about the hip and why you might experience certain symptoms. He took the time to hear me out, and let me answer questions instead of trying to shoot me out of his office.”


Alex recommends anyone with symptoms similar to the ones she faced to not wait in the pain, but instead go see Dr. Van Thiel for relief.

Looking Ahead

Today, Alex has two strong hips and is happily back in the gym, crushing the goals she sets for herself every day!

Unfortunately, the dismissal of patients’ symptoms and feelings by doctors is a common problem. It is important to find an orthopedic surgeon, like Dr. Van Thiel, who truly cares about his patients’ wellbeing and medical experiences.

If you are experiencing hip, knee or shoulder pain that has continued for multiple weeks, contact our team today for a consultation.

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