Re: Was I a guinea pig?
I don't use a cane, but maybe I should! I have tried to keep everything as normal as before, but have ended up compensating despite my best efforts. Some things to avoid: sitting in a closed-seated position (as you would sit in a car) will cause your hip pain to increase. If you can't recline your chair, you may tend toward slumping in your seat to open up the angle of the hip. This practice could end up being counter-productive, as you can hurt your back. I strongly believe that this practice contributed to the full-thickness tear in my L4-L5 disc. (I had this spine segment fused, which led to other complications.) Now, I try to sit on the edge or corner of a chair, so I can stretch my legs toward the floor, but keep my back straight. I have a saddle-chair at work which is super-helpful.
Also, I tend to rotate my hip forward and backward as I'm walking. It hurts when I try to step forward with the unaffected leg, while pushing off with the affected leg. I rotate my hip rather than allow the weight to transmit through the front of my hip. It tooks years of observation and a physical therapist with a Doctorate in PT with a fancy zero-gravity treadmill (called "Alter-G") to figure this out. She said that her practice group had postulated that patients with hip pain would exhibit this gait, but I was their first confirmation.
The problem with this gait pattern is that it engages the muscles in the lower back as the affected hip is coming backward. For me, this overuse of the back muscles contributes to the muscle spasms I've had in my lower back. Taking shorter steps or an assistive device (like a cane) may be helpful. Right now, I can walk about twenty steps (ten steps with the affected leg) before my hip screams NO! I have been focusing on increasing this range, knowing that it will probably take years before I can walk correctly. If you can refrain from altering your gait, you may have better luck in returning to normal activity quickly.
I've learned that I need to educate myself about my own health issues, which fortunately are mostly orthopedic in nature. Some nerve entrapment, nerve damage, etc., but no cardiovascular problems, fortunately! The one thing that has been most helpful is being in the water. I was a swimmer as a kid, so I can still get in the water and get a good workout, which helps with the cardio and to keep the weight off. (I've gained about 20 pounds in the last year, so I've now started the process of getting rid of them -- down 5 so far. Sadly, it's a struggle, as I'm taking two different medications that can cause weight gain.)
I have also done things as simple as just walking in the water to practice a correct gait without pain. If you have access to a pool, I would use it as much as possible. If I think of anything else I've learned, I'll let you know. Hips are super-tricky, as there can be so many other issues that cause pain the hip area: bursitis, sciatica, general nerve impingement, certain hernias, piriformis syndrome, SI joint inflammation, so best to get a full work-up by a good sports medicine doctor to rule out other problems.