Author Topic: Two weeks out and never felt better  (Read 136 times)

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spartacus

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Two weeks out and never felt better
« on: July 13, 2020, 11:40:29 PM »
At age 26 (Oct 2017) I was in a cycling accident and fractured my right femoral neck. I was taken to a local hospital and screws were put in to hold the hip together. At the time the orthopedic surgeon told me that he preferred doing that over a THR because even though it would be a slower and more difficult recovery, he felt it was likely I would need more work on the hip later in life, and wanted to preserve the bone for the benefit of future surgeons.

Three very slow months later, everything looked and felt good and I put away the cane. Eventually I got back into running, redid Couch-to-5K (which I had completed, for the first time in my life, three months before the accident!), and remained fairly active. The surgeon did warn me at the time of surgery, and during follow-ups, of a high probability of avascular necrosis because the fracture was very close to some important arteries; but he was happy with my progress otherwise.

In Jan-Feb 2019 I started developing some very unusual muscle pains and loss of range of motion in my right thigh, as if I had pulled every muscle at once, and developed a severe limp over the course of about three days. I went to the ER because I didn't know what was going on and was afraid that something had happened to the hardware. The screws were fine, but the radiologist saw some evidence of AVN. Fortunately I was able to see the surgeon that same week, and he agreed that AVN was likely, and ordered an MRI to confirm. The MRI confirmed it and although he seemed a bit disappointed that it had happened so soon, neither of us were surprised since it was a known outcome. He then told me that as a trauma surgeon, long-term hip preservation wasn't his field of expertise, and I would need to see a specialist.

In the meantime, while waiting for the MRI and another follow-up to review the results (long, irrelevant story about delays due to insurance and hospital bureaucracy), an acquaintance of mine reached out to their network and multiple people came back recommending Dr. Su at HSS. The trauma surgeon looked into him and was comfortable with it, and as I live in NYC, it was a no-brainer to go with that recommendation.

In the first consultation in Sept 2019, Dr. Su explained that a resurfacing was my best long-term option considering my age and desired activity level, and I would likely need it within 1-2 years. I was sent for a cortisone injection to see if that could help delay the surgery.

It worked...for four days. Four beautiful, blissful, pain-free days.

In Jan 2020 X-rays revealed that the AVN area had spread and osteoarthritis was starting to set in, and Dr. Su recommended surgery in the near term. In fact, at that appointment, Dr. Su noted that my "starting stiffness" after standing up, and the difficulty with which I hobbled around the exam room, were strong indicators of hip osteoarthritis as well.

Surgery was delayed until June 26th (something about a global pandemic ::)). The pain became worse and worse throughout the first half of the year and even simple motions could be difficult. I couldn't walk more than about 2 blocks without stopping to rest the joint. Stairs were hellish and I couldn't sit still for more than an hour or two without something become irritated.

Going into it I was looking forward to being rid of pain, but I was also very nervous after the experience of recovering from the fracture - I had basically no strength for the first couple of weeks and was worried the patient education had been overly optimistic.

My fears could not have been more misplaced. I was discharged the same day and was very surprised at how effectively I could move around even just a few hours after waking up. The physical therapist who evaluated me in the hospital seemed quite pleased as well.

I'm now 17 days out, and now that the pain has almost completely subsided, I'm noticing that the bone-on-bone feeling and the pressure in rainy weather are gone. It's something I haven't felt for a year and a half - absolutely no pain or negative sensations at all in the hip. Some soreness and swelling remains, as should be expected post-surgery, but nothing seems out of line. The physical therapist has also been pleased with my progress over even just the two-week period.

I'm currently on partial weight bearing because the screws were removed from the hip during the surgery, so I have to take everything a bit more slowly and carefully while the bone heals. I have a follow-up with Dr. Su in early August and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I'll be upgraded to full weight bearing at that point. This was absolutely the right decision, and my only regrets are the delays I encountered.

As a side note, I need to compliment everyone at HSS - they have been some of the most thorough and professional medical staff I have ever encountered in my life. Dr. Su himself is a wizard, but his support and office staff, not to mention the hospital's nurses, technicians, etc, have all been top-notch. I really cannot emphasize enough that if HSS is a viable option it should be taken.

Pat Walter

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Re: Two weeks out and never felt better
« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2020, 12:31:54 PM »
spartacus.  Congratulations on your hip resurfacing. Seems like it was a very long time before it happened. I am glad you are healing well and feeling very little pain. Sounds like you are on your way to an active, pain free life again. Glad you are being conservative. Really important in a case like yours.  Thank You for sharing your story. I look forward to your updates. I will post your story on the main website as your recovery progresses.  Enjoy the new hip and take it slow! I wish you the best.    Pat
Webmaster/Owner of Surface Hippy
3/15/06 LBHR De Smet

rday12

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Re: Two weeks out and never felt better
« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2020, 12:46:52 PM »
Congrats! Early August will put you at 5 or 6 weeks post-op, so expect to be full weight bearing at that point. Donít push it until then, and stick to your surgeonís recommendations. Itíll start to feel like a long slog until that point, but thatís what your body needs. By late August, youíll be very happy with what youíre able to do.

catfriend

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Re: Two weeks out and never felt better
« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2020, 03:13:55 AM »
Congratulations, and good luck with your continued healing. Unless you've personally experienced it I don't think anybody can truly understand that after surgery virtually all of the pre-op hip pain is just gone. It's so weird. You go from continuous 24 hour a day pain to nothing (except the surgical pain).

spartacus

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Re: Two weeks out and never felt better
« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2020, 07:15:24 PM »
Thanks for the kind words everyone. Three weeks out and my range of motion is excellent (limited of course to not exceeding the 90-degree rule etc). The high alert about taking everything slowly remains, though ;)

I switched to outpatient physical therapy this week, and I can say quite confidently that walking the two-block distance on crutches is completely pain-free in the hip, compared to before.

Congratulations, and good luck with your continued healing. Unless you've personally experienced it I don't think anybody can truly understand that after surgery virtually all of the pre-op hip pain is just gone. It's so weird. You go from continuous 24 hour a day pain to nothing (except the surgical pain).

This couldn't be more true. During a patient education seminar the host mentioned that one of the first things patients notice is the lack of bone-on-bone feeling. My thought was "naaaaahhhhhhhh, that's just the painkillers talking, the joint is still going to hurt a lot." Nope. That's exactly what it is. Even in the first few days, it was mostly just pain around the incision and general soreness. Crutches, of course, are an upper body workout on their own, but no worse than starting any other intense workout plan.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2020, 07:31:53 PM by spartacus »