Hip Replacement

Archived Responses: 

Jan 2006

I am writing for someone who may be looking at hip replacement surgery soon. We hear conflicting stories so would really appreciate hearing from those who have actually gone through this.
We would like to know your thoughts on: 1) What hospital did you go to? 2) What surgeon did the surgery? 3) What sort of athletic activities could/did you do before and what can/do you do now? 4) How did the surgery change your life +/-? 5) How old were you when you did this and how old are you now? 6) What should you have asked before? 7) What advice would you offer to someone thinking about this?
Many thanks in advance. Just writing this makes me feel like I am helping somehow... worried friend

I presently am rehabilitating from knee replacement surgery and while the particulars differ from hip replacement, and at this point it would be premature for me to comment about long term positive effects it has had on my life -- although already I am not experiencing any pain and am cautiously optimistic that this will turn out to be a life-changing event -- I can 100% recommend my surgeon, Dr. H.M.''Mac'' Reynolds. He is superb and as far as I have been able to determine THE hip and knee replacement expert in the East Bay area. He is tops! Terrific bedside manner and committed to his patients besides being an excellent surgeon.

And, Kathy Geier, his nurse practitioner is outstanding also. I am in my mid 50's and suffer from arthritic knees -- too many marathons -- so I am on the young side for replacement surgery.

While Dr. Reynolds' office is in Oakland, he operates at San Leandro Hospital. I was very well cared for there. It is my understanding that he is the only hip and knee replacement surgeon there, so all the nurses and other staff are trained in his protocol. I am very happy -- so far -- with the result and hope your friend contacts Dr. Reynolds, 3300 Webster Street, 510/836-3300. Please invite your friend to email me.
not limping any more

I forwarded your post to a friend who had hip replacement surgery a few years ago as a side effect of long-term cancer therapy. Here's what he had to say:

1) UCSF orthopedics clinic
2) Michael Ries, who developed the kind of hip replacement I have.
3) Hip replacement limits ability to do anything high impact on the hips; e.g., running, jumping, walking really long distances, and carrying really heavy things. There are also certain positions which are dangerous (hip may pop out of socket). For example, it is difficult and not advisable to sit cross-legged on the floor. In general I try to avoid sitting on the floor.
4) see above. Otherwise, the hips feel amazingly normal. Oh, I do always set off the metal detectors in the airport.
5) 35 at the time.
6) Establish a clear plan for recovery. It will take a lot of time (many months) and will involve a lot of pain (for which you will take a lot of narcotic, which will prevent you from doing anything that requires alertness, like work or drive a car, which makes you dependent on other people), a lot of inconvenience (even without the drugs, you would not be able to drive a car anyway. And you can't sit in a bath tub. And no stairs). You will likely start with a wheelchair, than a walker, than crutches, than a cane. And at some point you will have to do physical therapy, which is hard work.

So you will have to make arrangements for:
- 24-7 care, for a couple of months.
- housing: live on the first floor. free up enough space to move a wheelchair. No steps allowed anywhere!
- work... after pain eases enough, you can work from home, if this is an option.
- money: Check your employer's rules for disability and your health coverage for stuff like wheelchairs and physical therapy.
- have your doctor get a disability placard for your car as soon as possible.
- stock up on books.

Be clear to yourself and your caregivers and employer... you will be severely disabled for a while, any personal issues you have about dependence or autonomy, get over them. And take the drugs.

The good thing is that in the end your hips will likely work amazingly and unexpectedly well. And in the mean time you will have read lots of good books. jinko