As with many others who contribute to, and read along, on this site, I was progressively loosing function in one of my hips over several years. By year end 2010 I has just about tried everything that a Hong Kong resident could do to keep me running, playing high level tennis, hiking. I have been a serious skier all my life, but the last 2 years I packed this in due to a lack of confidence as to whether I could get them around when it was steep and deep.
I tried yoga, Japanese deep stretching, magnets, ultrasonic waves directed at my hip, Chinese traditional pummeling. And pills. All of these worked a bit, for a while. Two hours of singles tennis was able to undo any of the benefits of all of the above. By January of this year hill climbing in the Hong Kong hills was becoming more of an exercise to prove to myself that I could essentially hop to the top of Lion Rock Mountain on my “good” leg. January through May I was playing tennis using a “floating” running technique, where the time I placed weight on my right leg was very limited. Among other outcomes, my right leg and glute were getting significantly smaller than my left.
So now for the Hong Kong experience. I went to a highly regarded orthopod in a private hospital who said he thought I needed “decompression”………holes drilled into the femur head; 50/50 chance of success; six months recovery. He wanted to know if I was an alcoholic. ( In China, most Westerners are a priori considered to be alcoholics. I’m a Westerner but not an alcoholic). This Doc said not much was understood about hip problems in Hong Kong since they were relatively rare in the Asian population. I went to another highly regarded orthopod in HK at another private hospital. He looked at the x rays and said both hips looked arthritic, asked me if I was an alcoholic, and told me that nobody in HK did much with hips and I should go to the US or Canada and get it dealt with. This seemed complicated given Canadian wait times and the apparent debate in the US over methodologies and devices. I spoke to the leading hip guy in Japan. He thought maybe he could scope the right hip, 50/50 chance of a good outcome, lengthy recovery, in Japan. Good food, nice country. This also seemed complicated.
At about this time I heard of Dr. Jason Brockwell at Asia Medical Specialists in Hong Kong. He is a youngish Englishman with 500 plus BHR’s to his credit. He has some connection with Dr McMinn which he maintains, having trained with Dr McMinn in Birmingham. Turns out Dr Brockwell is the big hip guy in Hong Kong and also does hips for patients in other parts of Asia, notably PRC. Brockwell presents as a fairly typical high level surgeon who specializes in complex procedures. He has a “top gun” personality and exudes confidence. He took the usual 10 seconds with my x-rays and said BHR now or later, your choice. I put up with more pain and more unhelpful therapies for a few months and did the deed. Loosing the ability to walk tends to very motivational.
My recovery has been typical of that described by others on this site. Pain gone immediately, improvement everyday. It is, however, a long recuperation, and the stories I read of others on this site who claim to be running marathons, etc, within weeks of surgery make me wonder deeply about the human condition. My only set back was, at week 5, I took a long walk using one crutch. The outcome was a major problem with my back which I couldn’t shake and which persisted for 5, yeah, 5, weeks. The overall recovery process I was following was slowed and I wasn’t happy. (I had a “big” Ganz Lesion removed and was told to cool it in terms of weight bearing for 3 months).
So, in conclusion, there are excellent hip resurfacing skills in Hong Kong, at least in the person of Jason Brockwell. There are also excellent physio therapy skills in HK, that come at a price. I chose Physio Motion, as sports specialists and attended both before and after the surgery. I had no real swelling, and, as I said earlier, made progress every day. No one should skip the physio, whether you can talk your insurer into paying for it or not. The final point I would make to my fellow Hong Kong residents is, be skeptical when your local Doc tells you you can’t get help in HK. How two of the best would fail to mention an experienced surgeon like Jason Brockwell is something that Jason might take up with his colleagues when they meet on the golf course. Perhaps while he is holding a 7 iron.