I am just over one year removed from right hip resurfacing surgery (BHR) performed by Dr. Anton Plakseychuk at UPMC Magee in Pittsburgh, PA. I have been hesitant to report, because it has only been a year, but the results have been so dramatic, that I feel the need to let others know, that at least some of us have been able to return to an active lifestyle and in my case, perhaps better than I was before.
I chose the BHR over THR because I am a recreational runner and this was my best (or only) option to get back to running. I had run 8 marathons in the 4 years prior to my last one (Boston, April 2014). For a few years, I noticed various issues with my right leg (ironically, none of them were hip pain), which while not causing pain while running, did give me significant discomfort afterwards, particularly the hamstring. A few months prior to Boston, I developed right shin pain, which did affect my ability to run. After cutting back on mileage, I limped through the Boston Marathon, taking an hour longer than I did on my qualifying run. For a few months afterwards, I assumed I was dealing with a running injury, which would resolve itself with rest, stretching and strengthening. Eventually, due to a lack of progress, I made an appointment to see a specialist. The X-Rays made it clear that I had severe OA of the right hip and was nearly bone on bone. I had the surgery on October 27, 2015, followed by 6 weeks of PT (3 times per week). I used a cane for the first 4 weeks and gradually built up my strength (and cardio) by walking and using my hybrid elliptical (Octane Zero Runner). I resumed running at 4.5 months. A few weeks after starting back, I ran a half marathon, slowly and without hip pain. I did notice some right knee pain during the last two miles, making me decide that I may have pushed it a bit too much, so I stopped running for about a month.
When I resumed running at 7 months (June 2016), I decide to keep the effort level low and only increase the mileage if all my joints cooperated, which they did. My real limitation was that I was out of shape, not having run in 2 years. I thought I could pick up where I left off because I had been hitting the elliptical hard, but of course, it’s not the same. As the summer wore on, I averaged 40+ miles per week, all of which was slow and easy. In August I ran in a small 10 mile race on a hot humid morning, and while I ran significantly slower than I did a few years ago, I felt better than I did after the half marathon. I still felt like I was at least a year from attempting to qualify for Boston (3:40 for my age group, M55-59). During all this time, the repaired hip was never a limiting factor. Starting in late September (11 months post-surgery) and for the next two months, I would run four races (10K, 10 miles, marathon, ultramarathon (50 miles)), the last two being only 13 days apart. In the marathon, I eclipsed my old best by more than 1.5 minutes, while qualifying for the 2018 Boston Marathon. The results of those races follow:
Pace per mile
Place/Age Group (M55-59)
Personal Records (date)
Great Race 10K Pittsburgh, PA
Army 10 miler
Indiana (PA) Veteran’s Marathon
JFK 50 mile
First time this distance
When I decided to have the surgery, I expected to be able to run again, but I had no expectation as to what level that would be. Perhaps the best I would be able to do was going to be an easy 5K or 10K. If that were the case, I would have been fine with that result. However, as I slowly became more fit, it became obvious that I would not have to limit myself beyond what my fitness level would allow. I thought that while I possibly could run another marathon, it would likely be slower than what I had been running. It turned out that I was correct about being able to run that distance (and longer), but wrong about my speed. The speed has not only come back, but I am not terribly sore in the days following long hard efforts and that was never the case before. While it may seem reckless to some, I have been more than willing to walk off a course during a race if I experienced significant pain. So far, that has not happened. Clearly the OA caused me to make subtle changes to my running (and walking) gait, which caused alignment issues throughout my right leg. Once the surgery corrected the main issue, the body eventually realigned properly. Of course, one year is a very small sample size and I will likely continue to push the envelope. I am aware that I could be shortening the life of the implant, but this is important enough to me that I intend to find out. Hopefully, I’ll have another positive report to make at the five year point.
I am grateful that I took the time to find such a tremendous surgeon in Dr. Plakseychuk and most appreciative of the job done by him and his outstanding staff at Magee Hospital. If I have problems with the other hip, he will be the first and only call I make.