At 21, Zak Mills already had 110 first team appearances under his belt, a newly signed contract at Bridge Road – and dreams of playing at the top flight!
With the new season's preparations underway and back in the gym, Zak struggled with the core strengthening work. That general groin pain he was feeling in the off season when walking, sitting and driving was now proving to be more than just a niggle.
Soon the extent of his groin pain had left Zak unable to play and fearing for his career.
At Histon FC, the club's Sports Therapist Nick Whitehouse knows the difference between success and failure. He believed that the Villar Bajwa Practice could meet the club's expectations – meticulous diagnosis and treatment followed by fine-tuning of the rehabilitation.
Zak was referred to the Villar Bajwa Practice (Mr Richard Villar and Mr Ali Bajwa), a world-class orthopaedic practice based at Spire Cambridge Lea Hospital with clinics in London and Cambridge.
Acclaimed for its expertise in hip arthroscopy, the practice specialises in sports injuries, treating professional athletes who travel from all over the UK and internationally. Working with the patient and the club’s support staff, the clinicians at Villar Bajwa build a team around the injured athlete to ensure that the timing of surgery will have a minimal impact on their professional schedule. The ultimate goal is always the successful return to sporting glory.
At the Villar Bajwa Practice, Zak met renowned surgeon Mr Ali Bajwa, who readily diagnosed FAI (femoroacetabular impingement), a condition where there is a mismatch between the ball and socket of the hip joint leading to the joint moving incorrectly and resulting in groin pain. In Zak’s case, this was also accompanied by damage to the labrum (the soft elastic seal on the rim of the hip joint), the gristle or cartilage and to the main ligament of the hip (ligamentum teres).
Mr Bajwa proposed a hip arthroscopy, a type of minimally invasive surgery (keyhole surgery). This procedure would allow him to re-sculpt the joint, stabilise the hip seal, add stem cells to the joint to help regrow the damaged cartilage and tighten the main ligament of the hip.
However, this was just part of the solution. Mr Bajwa is a firm believer in rehabilitation teamwork and ensures that surgery is supported by building strong partnerships between patient, consultant, coach and physiotherapist to work towards a mutual goal. This teamwork resulted in Zak being awarded man of match in his first game back.
The clinicians at the Villar Bajwa Practice are also involved in clinical research. In 2013 Mr Bajwa and Mr Villar presented a paper investigating the return to sport at six months following hip arthroscopy for FAI among professional footballers. In the study* of 29 professional male footballers aged between 23 and 35, the results revealed that 23 returned to sport within six months following their surgery.
Many of the athletes returning to sport attain even higher standards than their pre-injury level.
Mr Bajwa comments, “The outcome of this study is incredibly encouraging and the road to recovery is a unique journey for each individual. While pain-free physical ability is vital, rehab is about the drive and determination, dreams and aspirations of the patient. It is here at Villar Bajwa that teamwork is taken to another level and why we work in partnership to empower patients, physios, coaches and trainers.”
MBBS, MRCSEd, MSc Orth, MPhil (Cantab), DSEM (UK & I), MFSEM (UK), FRCS Tr & Orth (Ed)
Ali Bajwa is an arthroscopic sports surgeon with a special interest in stem cell therapy. He lectures and publishes widely. Ali competed on the international sports stage himself, hence his interest in sports injury. His Fellowships in arthroscopy and sports injury were in the UK and Australia.
*Source/Reference: Return to sport in professional footballers following hip arthroscopy. These findings were first reported by Mr Ali Bajwa at the International Society for Hip Arthroscopy (ISHA) Annual scientific meeting in Munich, Germany, October 2013.