February 16, 2008 I am 47 and had my hip resurfaced in June. Before resurfacing came along, I had been told by an orthopedic surgeon that I would be a candidate for replacement “someday.” I had decided to hold out as long as I could for something else to come along, knowing that amazing medical advancements are coming along faster and faster.
I had a minor sports injury to my left hip back in high school, probably resulting in some mild cartilage damage. But, the normal wear and tear caused the cartilage to wear down much faster, and starting in 2001 I started having a lot of trouble. I had developed a pretty good limp due to decreasing loss of mobility in that hip joint. Then, luckily in the spring of 2006 I saw a story on my local news about this “new alternative” to hip replacement.
I am so pleased with my results! I would make the decision again, and (God forbid) I were to need the surgery on my other hip, and I would have it. This procedure truly gives you back your life.
I think that “wait until you can stand it no more” is kind of “old school thinking” when it comes to this procedure. And, interestingly, after I had scheduled my surgery, it seemed my hip declined even faster as I neared my surgery date. I got to the point where I couldn’t wait for the surgery!
About the pain: that is so hard to answer, because everyone responds to pain differently, and every surgery is different. I would say that I, personally, must have a pretty good tolerance of pain … heck! We must surely build up a pretty good tolerance with the daily living with arthritis! I had NO pain in the joint and NO pain from my incision. In fact, my incision was rather numb (and still is). The only “pain” I had was from the dressing changes! (The hospital sent me home with these big, super sticky bandages that were tough to remove — and THAT hurt!) Walking around on the newly operated hip was not painful for me. It just felt kind of odd — a bit swollen and stiff, but already so much better than before my surgery. I did so well, in fact, that I quit taking pain killers a few days after returning home. I love having my evening glass of wine, so I quit the pain killers so I could have that! I just took aspirin and did great. In fact, I took less aspirin than before surgery, which I was taking quite a bit of beforehand. (I’m one of those that won’t take medication unless absolutely necessary. I figured I would tough it out with Advil, but I had no trouble at all. I think I lowered my aspirin dose down to just one a day (that is what my surgeon wanted me to take as my blood thinner for 6 weeks).
Again, that is my personal experience. Some people on this board have written about having quite a bit of trouble with pain post-surgery, needing to take their pain killers for several weeks. Some have experiences like mine, and I think many fall somewhere in between. But, I think most would say their pain was worse before the surgery. The post-op pain is “different.”
I think many would also say their reaction to the surgery was “why did I wait so long?” Truly, it is only during these past few months when I realize how much pain I was in. After a couple of weeks, my lower back and knee pain (left) started disappearing, and at about 3 months I could sleep “normally.” I no longer have to get up right away because of back pain. I can now stay all cuddled up under the covers and feel comfortable. The other day, I was shopping. Subconsciously, I kept waiting for the lower back pain to start, but then realized as the day went on, that I had none!
These are the only drawbacks I have found so far: being able to sleep in, housework no longer hurts, I can stand in place for a loooong time, mowing the lawn doesn’t hurt … rats! Now I can no longer give excuses for not getting things done around the house. 🙂
You do have to be patient: recovery takes time, it will take longer to do things the first couple of weeks (e.g. getting cleaned up and dressed in the morning), accept that some days you might have “buyer’s remorse, wondering what in the world you have gotten yourself into, wondering if you will get past the post-surgery phase, and learn to trust that it does all get better.
You don’t mention specifically what your knee problems are — how bad, etc. I would probably say expect the knee of your “good leg” to suffer a bit during recovery from resurfacing, because you have to put so much of your weight on the non-operated side, such as when getting up from a chair, taking stairs, etc. But, you quickly grow stronger, and then will find yourself starting to more evenly distribute your weight on both legs as you progress. But, I bet the first few weeks will put your “good side” through its paces.
Resurfacing is AWESOME! Check it out. I have read good things about Pritchett on this board, too, so you can be confident in his skills. Don’t suffer if you don’t have to. Resurfacing will put an end to you progressively getting worse and, instead, cause you to get better and better! Few people in this world have the option to regain their former life!
Kathy LBHR — 6/05/07 — Dr. Robert Barrack (St. Louis)