40 and facing hip replacement

Mention hip replacement surgery to just about anyone and they probably think of their dear old grandmother with osteoporosis. Surely hip replacement isn’t something young, active, healthy people need to think about. Or is it?

Mention hip replacement surgery to just about anyone and they probably think of their dear old grandmother with osteoporosis. Surely hip replacement isn’t something young, active, healthy people need to think about. Or is it?Price Cooper is an athletic 43-year old who enjoys staying fit by playing tennis, jogging and riding his bike. When he was in his late 30s, he began experiencing pain in his hip. He tried physical therapy, acupuncture and steroid injections — until the pain got to be too much.

“The tipping point was when it came down to me just not sleeping,” Cooper said. “I can deal with pain and discomfort, but when I could not consistently get a good night’s rest, I said I’ve got to do something about this.”

It’s not entirely common for younger people to develop such severe arthritis, but arthritis usually begins to develop in the 40s. If a person has sustained an injury or had years of wear and tear on a joint from sports or other activities, having serious pain at Cooper’s age is expected.

After seeing an orthopaedic surgeon who specializes in hip and pelvic conditions, Cooper was faced with weighing short-term options to stave off the pain or a permanent solution, which was hip replacement surgery.

“Nonsurgical treatment is always the first step,” said Jonathan Yerasimides, M.D., Cooper’s orthopaedic surgeon. “A high percentage of patients will get real relief from simple things like anti-inflammatory medications, therapy, cortisone injections and activity modification. Sometimes these things can take people 6 to 12 months, sometimes one to two years, before their symptoms come back and are severe enough that they’ll want to undergo hip replacement surgery.”

For Cooper, getting back to his high level of activity was goal No. 1, and according to Dr. Yerasimides, that’s very doable.

“For older patients who are less active, getting back quality of life is very simple,” Dr. Yerasimides said. “For patients like Price, it’s a bit more challenging. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get back that active lifestyle. It just takes a little more work.”

Today, there are different surgical techniques to speed recovery and healing. Dr. Yerasimides specializes in anterior hip replacement surgery, which is what Cooper underwent. The incision is in the front of the hip, where the joint is closer to the skin and covered by a thinner layer of muscle.

What’s recovery like?

According to Dr. Yerasimides, patients should be able to get back to a low level of activity within four to six weeks, including using a stationary bike, walking 1 to 2 miles continuously and even playing golf. Higher levels of activity, like Cooper was used to, require a little more therapy and strengthening. And that usually takes 3 to 6 months.

Cooper said those considering surgery will face some ups and downs along the way, but the end result is well worth it.

“If surgery is inevitable, don’t put it off,” Cooper said. “Study it, get comfortable with it, know what you’re up against, but then go ahead and get it done.”


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