Today, we're taking a closer look at his experiences leading up to and following his two hip replacement surgeries.
In his own words:
I first started to notice something was wrong with my hip when I was having trouble getting down to the ground, and an even harder time trying to get up. After about 4 months of this, the only way I could get up from a kneeling or sitting position was to use an aid, such as a cane, a rake, a counter—anything that could help boost me up.
I went for an initial evaluation by a physiatrist. I was sent for imaging tests: X-rays and an MRI. The results clearly indicated that arthritis had deteriorated my hip joint to the point that it was mostly bone-on-bone, with no cushioning from cartilage any longer. There were also many bone spurs.
Based on that evaluation, my surgeon suggested a total hip replacement. He said that was the best route to take. How soon? His response was, "Until you can no longer deal with the pain."
I went the conservative route at first. To manage the pain, I received a number of steroid injections into the hip. That just bought me some time. I was sleeping in a recliner or at times sideways on a couch because I could not lie in bed during the night.
Finally, after about a year of dealing with it, I had the surgery. Surgery went fine, and the recovery also went fine. In fact, the recovery from my hip replacement was almost a breeze compared with my shoulder replacement surgeries. (We will share Ron's story about his shoulder replacement surgeries in an upcoming blog post.)
A few things about the recovery were a nuisance. For example, I had to use a walker for about 4 weeks, I needed a high-rise toilet seat, and I needed help changing the bandages.
Physical therapy was also easy after my hip replacement. About 8 weeks after the surgery, I was just about back to normal.
The second hip basically went the same way. The only major difference was that—since the second hip replacement was on my right hip—it took longer before I was cleared to drive.
From what I've learned from the surgeon, the physician's assistant, and my physical therapists, one of the most important aspects of the actual surgery is to make sure that both legs are equal in length. Even a small difference can throw you off as you recover, resulting in a very bad walking gait and requiring the hip replacement to be redone through a revision surgery sooner rather than later.
If your doctor has raised the issue of joint replacement surgery to treat your arthritis and you're trying to decide the best course of action—or if you have any questions in general about arthritis or back pain—visit the Forums of Spine-health.com to connect with others who understand your struggle.