Avery Culver

Millbrook, AL

Conditions + Treatments

Medical Icon Hip Injury/Condition
Medical Icon Hip Labral Tear

I was born and raised in the Montgomery, Alabama area. As a kid, I played softball, but I wouldn't consider myself as an athlete through middle and high school. Honestly, I really didn't exercise and I wasn't interested in physical fitness for a long time.

I've always been tiny with a petite frame. When I graduated high school, I weighed 85 pounds and the majority of my adult life I've fluctuated between 90 to 95 pounds. I am a physical therapist, and as a "self-proclaimed weakling" I struggled at my job transferring patients and doing basic, daily activities like picking up a 50 pound bag of dog food.

Eight years ago, I had some health issues and gained a lot of weight. However, when I gained all the weight, wasn't healthy weight, so I started doing a whole bunch of cardio and dropped down from 110 pounds to 90 pounds, but I wasn't happy with how I looked and felt.

A friend of mine, who is now my husband, got me into powerlifting. Surprisingly, I was relatively good at it, especially since I never considered myself athletic growing up. I very quickly fell in love with the powerlifting community - which is so supportive and amazing.

I have been training as a competitive power lifter since 2019, when I entered my first competition. I loved the way powerlifting made me feel both physically and emotionally. I had less trouble transferring my patients and I could go to the store and get a 50 pound bag of dog food and didn't struggle with it.

I competed in 2020, and I hired somebody to rehab my deadlift because I was still having a lot of problems with my setup and my hip. I went to do a squat variation and felt a pop in my hip and I had worsening pain. I started having trouble walking at work, and I couldn't get up and down.

In the summer of 2022, I started experiencing some hip pain. Initially, it didn't impact a lot with work, and daily activities like powerlifting. However, as a physical therapist, I'm up and down a lot throughout the day treating patients, so the wear and tear increased my pain and discomfort.

After months of dealing with the injury, I made the decision to make an appointment with Dr. Christopher Carter, a wonderful doctor with great bedside manner. Dr. Carter ordered an MRI and found that I had a hip labral tear, and a deformity in the head of my hip. At that point, I was not able to train for competition, I couldn't squat. I couldn't deadlift, I couldn't do anything. I was so depressed, because I was not able be physically active.

Dr. Carter did a physical exam and was fairly certain I had a labral tear, and recommended we try a steroid injection to see if it would help lessen the pain short term. Unfortunately, the injection didn't help, so he ordered an MRI and internally referred me to Dr. Michael Ryan, an orthopaedic surgeon and hip preservation specialist. Dr. Ryan confirmed I in deed have a labral tear, along with some congenital deformities in my hip. Dr. Ryan performed my surgery and the femoroplasty with capsular imbrication and the label repair of my hip Thanksgiving week 2022.

My surgery and recovery were both wonderful. By February of 2023 I was back to lightweight, full-depth squats and back to pulling from the floor sumo, which I pretty much given up. Prior to surgery, I had lost hope that I would ever be able to pull sumo deadlifts again ever. I was pain free hadn't been pain free in yours. I felt absolutely fantastic. I was back to doing what I wanted to do, albeit it was not the weight that I wanted to do. But back to what I would consider full activity.

So, then I go back to work, at the time, as an outpatient physical therapist. Well, when I went back to work, I wasn't back to work a month and during Spring Break week we were short staffed. Our company decided that they didn't want to bring in PRN to assist with the lack of staffing, so I saw 75 patients by myself that week.

By Friday, I was so exhausted, so when I stepped off of the table and immediately felt a pop in my hip. Unfortunately, I was back to worse than I was pre surgery. I did three weeks straight of around-the-clock, anti- inflammatory, which normally would cause my aggravation to calm down, but the constant pain persisted.

Every movement hurt, like just even pain, just putting weight on it. Finally, three weeks later I made the decision to call Dr. Ryan and said "hey, something's wrong. I've done all of this that you would normally tell me to do. It's not any better. In fact, I feel like I'm still getting worse."

Dr. Ryan examined me and viewed my diagnostics and structurally felt like everything was ok. He sent me to Dr. Ricardo Colberg who was in the same clinic location that day for another steroid injection in my hip.

Dr. Colberg did the injection. He's super sweet as well. I enjoyed him very much. The injection did help. I was able to get back to work and felt pretty normal, but I was still having pinching and all of my pre-surgery symptoms. At that point, Dr. Ryan ordered a follow-up MRI, and it showed normal, post-op changes. At that point, I was 6 months post-op so there was kind of a toss-up of was it post-op changes, or was it a new labral tear?

Dr. Ryan referred me to physical therapy and I didn't get a whole lot better. During that timeframe. Dr. Ryan moved to Green Bay to become the Packers new physician, which so that solidified that I knew he was a dang good surgeon.

When I reached out to the office, it was recommended that Dr. Benton Emblom, who is also a hip preservation specialist, review my imaging done after my reinjury. Dr. Emblom agreed with Dr. Ryan that there was no indication for another surgery, which was reassuring. 

At that point, Dr. Emblom referred me back to Dr. Carter, bless his sweet soul, who is so patient, kind and wonderful. Both he and Dr. Ryan were absolutely amazing, such wonderful bedside manner. Knowing that Dr. Colberg had previously administered a steroid injection, Dr. Carter said that he didn't really want to do another steroid injection, but did recommend a PRP injection.

This is August, 2023 at the time, so Dr. Carter administered the PRP injection in September, and at my 6-week follow-up appointment in October I was doing a decent bit better.

Dr. Carter felt like physical therapy was the next step, so he referred me to a colleague of his that he knows in the Birmingham area, who's a really good hip-focused, physical therapist. I did physical therapy with her for one month.

At my most recent follow-up with Dr. Carter, I was able to tell him I was back to being able to squat, squatting to depths now, and I can pull from the floor pain free. I'm still having a little bit of issues that he said that that's probably just going to clear up on its own as my hip gets stronger.

Never once did, Drs. Carter, Colberg or Ryan say "I want you to give up powerlifting, or suggest a lifestyle change." which really meant a lot to me. Because that's really what I wanted. That's why I had to hip surgery, so I could continue to be able to do these things.

I had so many people tell me, "well, you need to stop doing this, you need to stop doing this." I'm like, I'm functional, I feel strong, I feel capable. I don't feel like that little weak girl that everybody thought I was for so many years.

Reflecting back to my surgery with Dr. Ryan, after two weeks he was like, "hey, if you want to start doing bench press, absolutely do it. He and his team really took the time to help me figure out how to continue doing what I wanted to do. They always gave me the confidence that I would be able to get back to doing what I wanted - taking care of patients and powerlifting. I think that is awesome and that meant so much to me because it's such a big part of my life.

At this point, my coach and I are targeting to get back to training to compete the mid-2024. At that point, it will be almost two and a half years, since I last competed. I last competed in June of 2022, so I will I plan to be back on the platform and y'all will absolutely be tagged in all of my videos.

I had actually taken a hiatus from even training, because the hip pain and the pinching in my hip actually prevented me from being able to squat below parallel, which is a must in the powerlifting world. Otherwise, the squat doesn't count.

Prior to surgery I couldn't squat, I couldn't get to depth, or get in the position to even squat. I wouldn't be able to compete because of my injury. I couldn't deadlift because I couldn't get to the floor to get the bar, I was physically unable to do it. I couldn't even put my feet on the floor to set up my bench press. I wasn't able to train as though I would compete because I couldn't do the movement in the manner that I would have to do for it to count.

Today, I am officially in meet prep. My goal to set the national record for my age and weight class for squats. At moment, the national record is 140 pounds, which is not a whole lot of weight, but it is a lot of weight for someone my size and weight.

Treatment Providers
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Christopher S. Carter, MD View Bio
Ricardo E. Colberg, MD
Ricardo E. Colberg, MD View Bio