Neil Richardson Hip Resurfacing with Dr. Engh 2008
I am a 44 year old former college/professional player. I began playing in the street at age 7 in my neighborhood outside of Washington DC, and kept at it until joining an apprenticeship program for the North American Soccer League in 1982. The NASL began to have financial problems and teams began to fold in the early 80s, in two years the league went from 28 teams to 12, and I opted to continue my playing on scholarship at the University of South Florida. After college, I played in a series of start-up pro leagues like the American Soccer League and the A League…I found myself gravitating back to “amateur” teams as the money was better (long story…). I also ran track and played football in high school, running and weight training has been a passion of mine since I was in my teens.
In 2005, after more than 35 years of playing, I began to have periodic pain in my groin, which I assumed was a pulled groin that I never properly allowed to heal. As I was playing less and less, I assumed that when I did play a couple of times of month and after hard runs two or three times a week that my groin was being pushed too hard. In 2008, I finally went to see an orthopedic surgeon who works with an MLS team and he diagnosed my condition. Dr. X apparently, wasn’t familiar with hip resurfacing as he told me my days of running and playing were over unless I wanted to take strong medication and suffer through increasingly intense pain.
Needless to say, I was in shock to have this news delivered to me. I began to do research and found an information seminar on hip resurfacing at George Washington University by Dr. Unger. I walked in a little late to the seminar but the first words I heard as I was sitting… “with resurfacing, there is no reason why you cannot return to your former activities like playing soccer, running, skiing and martial arts” from that moment on my hope was restored. Shortly after that, a teammate recommended that I talk to Dr. Engh at the Anderson Clinic in Arlington, Virginia. I credit, Dr. Unger and George Washington University for providing me the path toward recovery and a better understanding of my options. I selected the Anderson Clinic and Dr. Engh for three reasons; his experience doing a couple of thousand resurfacing operations, word of mouth recommendations and they accepted my insurance provider.
Dr. Engh asked me about my activity profile and history of pain in my hip, examined the x-rays from my initial orthopedic visit with Dr. X and took new ones. Dr. Engh recommended surgery as soon as I could arrange my schedule.
I underwent surgery on March 17, 2008. I was on crutches for 3 weeks and then went directly to walking. I did my exercises every day three times a day or more and beginning second week 50-100 abdoms. I walked with my crutches three times a day around my neighborhood; one long walk of 45 minutes and two shorter ones. I also did hydrotherapy (simulated running in the pool) beginning at 3.5 weeks for about 45 minutes 3 times a week for 1 month and vigorous walking around at 7 weeks (bones respond to stimulation like muscles it turns out). On my 4 week anniversary I walked about 3.0 miles from downtown DC to my neighborhood near the National Zoo. At 5 weeks, I started cycling (I purchased a used Trek 1500 from a friend) and lifting weights a week later. I continue doing the simple hip exercises I was instructed to do in the days following the surgery and have incorporated them into my stretching routine.
I started slowly with my cycling but I quickly got my miles up riding about 100 miles per week (30 to 40 miles per ride) and started kicking the ball, juggling and light drills at 4 months (no matches or contact). I ran for the first time at 4 months post operation on the treadmill for two miles at a 12 minute mile pace. I found that I needed to teach my leg how to sprint/move quickly again, I experienced no pain while doing any of these exercises. In all cases, I started slowly and was extremely mindful of every sensation in my body including and beyond my repaired hip. As you know, on all things pain is the key indicator. I looked up a lot of information on bone healing/grafting to understand the most critical healing part of the process; at 8 weeks our bones are basically mended for most everyday activities. I started working out at the gym using all the machines (gently and terrified on the leg ones) at 6 weeks…it was about a month later at 2.5 months later that I became comfortable really pushing it w heavier weights (probably about 80% of what I could do on any given day)…I focused on repetitions (usually 15) and good form and occasionally resumed my light yoga practice being careful to avoid dangerous hip movements. I also did the “Body for Life” workout for a month as I felt my whole body had deteriorated.
I visited Dr. Engh for my 4.5 month appt on July 18. He was pleased with everything, said to keep working on my range of motion; he wasn’t alarmed I had been kicking the ball around for a few weeks or ran two or three miles. He did tell me that he still recommended that all of his patients wait 1 year for 100% healing and that I should be careful of yoga, particularly in the position like a women shaves her leg, standing and leaning backwards…because of possibilities for dislocation. I tried to sprint (at about 60-70%) for the first time at 4.5 months and literally fell down on my face as my right leg dragged…I tried again a week later and I was much improved. At 5 months I began training with friends instead of drilling by myself and striking the ball against a wall.
On Aug 24 (6 months post op), I played in my first live contact scrimmage with an over 40 team. I felt good for about 35-40 minutes, at this point my upper hip began to tire and feel weak/exhausted. I tried to play the second half but my legs and body didn’t have it in them. I didn’t take any substantial hits but my feet moved well and my skill was very good (relatively). On Aug 26, I was still sore in my lower back, arms, and oblique’s and my groin but I am also more flexible in my new hip side. I felt very encouraged by the outing and it was great to get back out on the pitch again on a beautiful, sunny morning.
On September 20, I played in a more competitive open division match featuring college age players and fit mostly under 35 players. In the month since my over 40 outing I worked on my conditioning and focused on foot speed. As in the previous match, playing a holding midfielder position, I felt extremely good for about 35 minutes including nearly scoring twice. As the half began to wane so too did my fitness, I came off at about the 40 minute mark and played for about 15 minutes in the second half but far less effectively. I experienced minor pain in my groin and my hamstring felt vulnerable to a pull or tear so I completely rested for 3 days before resuming my training. I’ve played in a couple of matches since the September 20th game with no injuries or major pain, although I am still guarded and restrained in my tackles and my mental focus and skills seem to wane more extremely when I tire. I am also constantly reminded about the difference between aerobic and anaerobic fitness. I incorporate “farklet” training in most of my runs now (meaning a series of shorts sprints and pace changing that develops power and quickness).
I am completely satisfied with all aspects of my hip surgery. I credit Dr. Andy Engh with literally restoring my physical vigor and cannot thank enough the staff at Mount Vernon Hospital who actually made my 3 days in the hospital a pleasurable one. I used the two-three weeks I was mostly limited to my house to study every conceivable website on recovery, I read blogs and most essential was/is Pat’s Hippy site especially the stories of athletes recovery thoughts and routines. On no day, have I spent more than 2 hours on my rehabilitation routine except for a couple of the long rides on the bike that inherently take a long time. My average day of training is somewhere around 1.5 hours 5-6 days a week.
Lastly, I will add that I paid particularly close attention to my eating habits for a month post op, eating quality food from organic sources. I focused on low calorie and low fat food as I did not want to add losing weight to my recovery; I also increased my intake of protein, fruits and vegetables. I mostly stopped drinking alcohol and starting taking a variety of supplements when my workouts became more vigorous. The supplements I began to take are: Creatine, Dark Matter recovery mix for post workout, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Calcium/Magnesium, Glucosamine & Chondroitin with MSM and Spirutein. I consumed a lot of this stuff in the form of a smoothie. I read Dr. Andrew Weill’s book on nutrition and healing among many other things as I focused on my recovery. I should also add that I have a long practice of meditation in which I incorporated healing and visualization exercises to complement my integral approach to living.
I write this on January 1, 2009 (9 months post op) and I am considering running a marathon in DC in March to celebrate my new hip and to fulfill a life-long aspiration.