Performance Physical Therapy

So you think you are too young for a hip replacement?

Kristen was a very busy mom, running a home as well as a growing ecommerce design business. At 47 however, she was slowly but surely noticing something was changing. At first, in her early 40’s, her right hip would occasionally pinch and cause pain.

The occasional pain would last only a day or two if she “turned the wrong way”. A few months later, she noticed that she couldn’t cross her leg or tie her shoe. Work outs would result in 23 days of soreness in her hip. She started planning her errands so she didn’t have to be “on her feet” too long. She would catch herself absentmindedly rubbing her hip throughout the day. She went to her doctor who referred her to PT. It seemed to help. A month after discharge, however, the pain returned and it was more prevalent. She was increasingly scared that she was doing less and less and was hurting more and more. Her X-rays showed a surprising amount of degeneration in her right hip. Her orthopedic surgeon told her that a hip replacement would give her the pain relief she was looking for. Now she was faced with a very difficult decision. Should she go forward with the disruption of hip replacement surgery, or hold off as long as possible? And she was only 47! She thought hip replacements were for “little old ladies who fell”. She discussed it with her family and decided to go ahead with the surgery. As most of these surgeries are not emergency procedures, she would have time to plan. She would make arrangements for getting her son driven to school. Family and friends would help with meals. Her staff could run the online business. Her recovery would be as smooth as possible. Now the only thing left was the surgery.

When she awoke she was groggy and disoriented. Once she was alert, she was assisted up by the hospital PT, and with the help of a walker, took some steps. Although the surgery pain was acute, she was actually surprised how quickly the hip pain went away. Maybe this would be easier then she thought.

She was in the hospital for the rest of the week, and was driven home before the weekend with new gadgets to help her with dressing, walking and controlling some swelling in her leg. Did it hurt? Yes. No doubt she would be using those pain meds they gave her at discharge. She got tired very easily, was stiff and sore, and had problems sleeping. By 2 weeks she was still on pain meds, but was able to get to a PT to start the road to recovery. For now, Zumba classes would be replaced by trying to do simple front and side lunges, stretching, and standing on one foot. Her incision was healing, but it was still puffy and tender. When she walked, she leaned much more to one side. The pain was much less than before surgery, however. She began to fully realize how much the chronic pain had been wearing on her. Now, she was actually looking forward to her PT sessions, even though she was tired by the end of the hour. It then dawned on her that she was now able to exercise that long for the first time in years! She was back to driving herself in her car. By 2 months, she actually felt that she was in better shape now than in the last decade, since her son was born! She was now planning her son’s birthday party, going out with friends, and was back to working.

Instead of thinking she was too young for joint replacement surgery; Kristen realized that having surgery allowed her to get back to living a life that was slowly being denied her by her failing hip. It was completely worth the effort. It was hard and took patience, but I am so happy I didn’t wait. Kristen’s advice – if it can improve your quality of life like it did for me, go for it.

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