A hip joint replacement may be the best gift you can give to yourself
This article is not intended to be a proponent of replacement surgery; rather it is to share the experiences and thoughts of someone weighing the options to have or to not have the surgery.
You can postpone surgery, but it may not do you any good. Things will only continue to get worse. Walking from place to place may be a major struggle. You simply can’t do many things you used to do, and frustration is just a part of what you experience.
You may think you can tough it out, and you may try every option possible to avoid surgery. You simply don’t want anyone cutting you open and taking out natural parts and putting in man-made replacements. Surgery may be the last resort.
Yet that may be the best thing you can do for yourself—and it is exactly what I did for myself.
Research, conversations with several doctors, physical therapists, and many dozens of people who have had joint replacements, show that more than one in 20 Americans age 55 and older have had joint replacements.
Knee surgery is the most prevalent, hips are second. Osteoarthritis is the main cause of joint damage, but rheumatoid arthritis and two other types of arthritis also can cause crippling damage to joints.
Joint problems are more of an older person’s problem (I’m 79), but arthritis has been diagnosed in people as young as 15, one doctor told me.
The primary reason for having surgery is to give people “quality of life,” said Dr. Daniel Woods, a San Luis Obispo physician who has been performing knee and hip surgeries for a long time.
That translates into two things: reduction and even elimination of pain and restoration of mobility in the joint affected by arthritis. Mobility is restored by use of materials in cups that go into the hip socket so the part of the prosthesis taking the place of the upper portion of the femur can smoothly move in all the directions the hip needs to go.
In my case, it took nine years for me to decide to have a complete hip replacement. What triggered the decision was after a doctor, standing in for my regular doctor, was looking at my files and said, “your hip is wreckage,” then told me I had no choice, that I needed to have a joint replacement.
Not long after that, the physical therapist who was making attempts to get my frozen right hip joint to work, told me after a particularly excruciating session, “there’s nothing more I can do for you.” He said surgery was my only option.
That was earlier this year. I called the office of the surgeon whom I had met with twice before, and turned down his recommendations when he said I should do it, and asked for an appointment. The surgery was done May 23.
This decision followed years of taking MSM and Glucosamine, staying active and exercising, working on reducing my weight, and doing much research, especially on osteoarthritis, the primary cause of hip, knee and other joint breakdowns.
When I saw the surgeon, I was in relatively good physical shape and at an ideal weight for my frame. I seldom drink alcoholic beverages, and I avoid drugs. All this helps, I have been told.
At that, the doctor ordered tests of my heart and its condition, and blood tests to make sure I didn’t have any super-germs that could be spread in the hospital. A thorough examination was done to make sure there was nothing that would preclude an operation.
The care and caution of the doctor, anesthesiologist, nurses and others in the hospital there for the surgery and for follow-up care were as thorough as it could be. For which I am thankful. I did not end up with blood poisoning or infections. Later, when I was visited by physical therapists at my home, I was told that I had undergone major surgery. I guess it is.
The surgeon showed up the next morning, told me if I was ready, I could go home that day–which I did.
Dr. Woods uses an anterior approach to hip surgery, in which the joint is accessed through a cut between muscles, which means much faster healing and much less restriction on what a person can or should do following surgery. I actually took a short walk the night after surgery.
If you feel you might need to do something about a hip, or knee, or any other joint for that matter, do exhaustive research, and talk with physicians, check their websites (where you may find a great abundance of information that is useful), find out what they do; their specialties.
It’s all about your health and your mental, psychological, emotional health as well as the physical.