I live in London, UK and am seven weeks post-op. Having benefitted from reading so many stories on this great website, I wanted to share mine in return. I appreciate that many people have had and will have different experiences with regard to various aspects (such as length of stay in hospital, pain, swelling, scarring, rehab, etc.) and that a lot will depend on factors that are personal to them and to their surgeon. Nevertheless, I’m hoping that my very positive experience might help put some people at ease and reduce their pre-surgery nerves.
I had a BHR on 12 June with Prof. Fares Haddad at the King Edward Hospital in London. I was quite nervous before the surgery (never having undergone any, or even spending a night in hospital). I put it off as long as possible. I’m 52 and relatively active. I used to run about 30 miles a week until I was diagnosed with arthritis in my right hip about 4 years ago and had to quit running cold turkey. My arthritis progressed to the point where I couldn’t play an hour of doubles tennis without being in agony the next day. On bad days, I was limping noticeably and in quite a lot of pain. It’s often difficult to know just when to have the surgery but I can say now that I only wish I’d had it sooner. Just 7 weeks in, I’m in much less pain and am already able to do much more than I could with my old hip. While I’m still stiff and sore after I’ve been sitting for a few hours, that’s nothing compared to the arthritis pain I had. That pain’s completely gone now.
Taking the surgery, recovery and rehab in turn, I don’t think the operation or my recovery in hospital could have gone better, considering this is very major surgery. Prof. Haddad and his team were excellent and I have nothing but the highest praise for them. I went in for surgery on a Tuesday morning and actually got out of bed to take a couple of small steps (with the help of a nurse and a frame walker) later that afternoon. The pain from the surgery wasn’t too bad (but then I WAS on a morphine drip — it came of a couple of days later). I was walking down the hall on crutches the next day and, by Thursday, I was walking around the block outside the hospital to get some fresh air. I was discharged from hospital on Saturday morning (after four nights) and I WALKED home. (I live just two blocks away from the hospital and I had a friend accompany me and carry my stuff.)
I live alone and was worried about how much help I’d need once I left hospital. Thankfully, I only needed help with putting on my DVT socks. (I was told to wear these for 6 weeks. I wore them for four. I had very little swelling but I decided to wear them while I was still on blood thinners (one month).) Getting around the house, up and down stairs, etc. was all fine. Soon after I got home, I dropped the second crutch and so I had a free hand and was able cook, get myself a drink, carry things from room to room, etc. It’s important to keep in mind that, while much of the literature you see deals with how to cope with a total hip replacement (rather than a resurfacing), you have a lot more mobility with a hip resurfacing. (For example, while you can’t put on socks for a while, you CAN pick things up off of the floor by taking your (operated) leg back as you bend over.) While I was pleased to be more independent and mobile than I had thought I would be, I still found this period at home immediately after the operation to be the most difficult. While a lot of it is spent trying to rest, I found it hard to sleep on my back or get comfortable otherwise. The decreased mobility and all the lying around could also get quite depressing. So, if you live alone, do try to have friends or family come around to give you some company, even if you don’t need their help with anything in particular. It’s also a good idea to get them to accompany you on long walks outside. I went for long walks and was walking for at least a mile a day by the end of my first week at home. While I tried to push myself with the physio exercises and a lot of walking, I’m no hero and I wasn’t on a mission to accomplish the quickest possible recovery or anything else. I was sensible and always listened to my body.
I work in an office and have a sedentary job. I took two weeks off after the surgery (so 3 weeks leave in all). While I went in for the better part of the work day upon my return, I tried to get out of my chair and go for walks as often as possible. (Sitting for long periods is difficult at this stage.) After a week at work, I replaced the single crutch with a cane. I dropped the cane after another week and was walking unaided four weeks (to the day) after my surgery. Once I started working, I tried to walk even more — as much as possible (in addition to doing the physio exercises). I work about a mile from where I live, so I made sure to walk back and forth to work. I also went for a long walk at lunch. I had been given good advice by a friend who had had the same procedure (also with Prof. Haddad) to walk as much as I could. I think that was some of the best advice I got. (I was also advised to take vitamin supplements and to eat lots of protein, all to help aid the healing process. I’ve never been a big believer in supplements, but I’ve taken them and so maybe they’ve helped as well.)
As for swelling and scarring, I had very little swelling after the surgery — just at the wound, thigh and knee. (It never extended below my knee.) My surgeon used dissolvable sutures and my wound healed well from the outset. After four weeks, it had healed completely and I was able to start swimming. I say swimming but it was mostly doing an extended set of my physio exercises in the water, as doing them in the water was much easier. The water also gave me a greater range of mobility. Once I could, I tried to get to the pool every day and I think that’s helped my recovery immensely. I had my post-op appointment with Prof Haddad about 4.5 weeks after my surgery. This was a bit early for a post-op appointment but I had booked a hiking vacation in the Alps with friends (yes – HIKING! – the trip had been planned before I booked the surgery!) and so I wanted to know if I could go on the trip at all. Not only did I get the green light to go on the trip but I was encouraged to push myself as much as I could at this stage. (I was simply warned not to run, jump (i.e., no high impact) or do anything that might risk my falling – anything and everything else was fine.) We stuck to marked trails and hiked for up to 3 hours a day. As it turned out, I think the vacation was very well timed. I had a hard time keeping up with my friends but I was very pleased at how much I was able to do. (Certainly much more than I could EVER have done on my old hip!) I think all the physical acitivity really paid off. Now, after 7 weeks, I’m back to my old routine and am already looking forward to doing some (lighI) running again next summer (I’ve been told to wait a year). I still feel stiffness and soreness, especially when I get up after sitting for a while, but it’s getting better every day.
That’s my story so far and, along with all of the others here, I hope it helps you get a better idea of what’s in store. Good luck!
August 9, 2012
I’m surprised to see the restrictions that some surgeons appear to be placing on rowing. At my post-op appointment (about 5 weeks after my BHR), I got the all-clear from my surgeon (Fares Haddad) to do anything that didn’t involve running or jumping – with no weight, flexion or other restrictions. As it happens, I used the rower for the first time just yesterday (8 weeks post-op). It felt better than when I rowed pre-surgery! On the concept 2, I did 5K in just under 23 minutes, which is just off my old times, so I was pretty happy about that. And I feel great today.
I don’t think my surgeon is a cowboy on the recovery score – like McMinn, he recommends waiting a year before running again. McMinn also includes rowing as as one of the good exercises to undertake after the soft-tissue healing phase. Here’s what he has to say about the risks on the FAQ section of his website:
"The first six weeks after the operation you are in the phase of soft tissue healing. Therefore you will be advised not to put your hip through extreme ranges of movement in order to avoid a dislocation.
After this period, the degree of soft tissue healing is adequate to protect your hip during any voluntary movement. As a matter of fact, the tendency of the healing scar is now to contract in order to gain strength. Contracting scar has the potential to create a stiff and sore hip unless the hip is subjected to regular exercise during this period. Hence you will be encouraged to progressively increase your range of hip movements and increase the strength in the muscles around the hip by resorting to activities like swimming and non-impact exercises in the gym (such as using the bicycle, rowing machine, cross-trainers etc). Any exercise that does not result in excessive loading of the hip is good at this stage. You should try and avoid high impact-loading exercises like running, jogging, football, squash etc for at least a year after the operation.
As your hip improves in flexibility and stability, you may gradually resume your hobbies over the next few months. You may start playing a gentle game of golf after around 4 months and doubles tennis around 6 months. During the next few months, as you find improvement in the strength of your hip, you will be able to play more rigorously. If you are very keen on resuming impact loading sports then please start jogging on the treadmill with good footwear for a few months starting around the eleventh month before moving on to outdoor jogging or high-impact sports."