Published: 30 December 2016
Last Updated: 30 December 2016
Created: 30 December 2016
I am a 59 year old male. I had my hip resurfaced on June 28, 2016 with Dr. Pritchett. I found the stories and other info on this site very useful when researching hip resurfacing. Therefore, I’ve decided to provide a brief account of my story with the hope that it might help someone decide what to do about their hip.
I live in Bozeman, Montana. Before my hip went to crap (starting ~4-5 years ago), I enjoyed skiing, climbing, trail running, hunting and fishing. I also do geologic field work as part of my profession. A year ago, I was having difficulty doing any of these activities and decided that a replaced joint had to be better than where I was headed. I shopped around with local surgeons, but none of them recommended resurfacing, probably because they are not trained in this procedure. If you are reading this and getting the same run-around, I recommend that you contact one of the resurfacing docs on this site. I think you’ll get a very different opinion.
I eventually found this website and it lead me to Dr. Pritchett. My initial contact with Dr. Pritchett was through email. I found him to be very responsive to emails and very helpful in helping me decide what to do. I sent him copies of x-rays. After reviewing them, he recommended that we use the Synovo Preserve due to my small pelvis. He was not at all pushy, but thought I was an excellent candidate for resurfacing. I decided to go for it. His assistant, Susan, was very helpful with scheduling the surgery and answering my (many) questions.
My wife and I drove to Seattle on Sunday, I saw Dr. Pritchett on Monday, and went into surgery on Tuesday. It was all pretty slick, except my x-rays showed much more deterioration of the joint than we had expected. While not ideal, Dr. Pritchett thought he could still install the Synovo Preserve with success. He did discuss other options with me, such as a total hip replacement, but I decided to charge ahead as we’d planned. He did not push the resurfacing on me. The surgery and hospital stay were uneventful. I was in the hospital less than 24 hours. Dr. Pritchett requires a 10-14 day post-op visit, even for out-of-town patients like me. Luckily we have a friend in Tacoma that we stayed with for the 10 days post-op.
We bought 4 ice gel packs and I rotated them 2 at a time. I stopped taking pain meds after 2 ½ days and walked with only a cane after 3 days. I really had no pain, except for those damn cramps I got when getting in and out of a car. Fortunately those subsided and by 10 days post-op I hardly experienced them anymore. At 10 days post-op I visited again with Dr. Pritchett. We reviewed my x-rays and he felt he’d gotten the Synovo Preserve placed “just right” over my fairly damaged pelvis. I’ll try to post an image of what it looks like. After the visit, we drove home to Montana, taking the scenic route along the Clearwater and Lochsa rivers through Idaho, which gave me opportunities to get out of the car and walk every 1-2 hours.
Once home, I focused on resting, eating well and walking 1-2 times per day. At 2 weeks post-op I walked about 2 miles with ~650’ vertical. The next day I felt a “slipping” feeling in my hip joint. It scared me a little so I took that day off from hiking. I used a cane when walking around the neighborhood and trekking poles for hiking on trails. During the first six weeks I learned to not overdo it. Even though I felt great, I really had to pace myself.
At 6 weeks, the 90° rule restrictions were released. I started formal physical therapy and started hiking longer distances. In mid-August I spent 4 days in the Beartooth Range hiking 5-10 miles per day, with a 15-20 pound pack. I was walking pretty slow, but I felt great. I got stronger with each hike. The trekking poles really helped. I also kept doing the PT strengthening exercises.
At 10 weeks post-op, I hiked 6 miles with a 40 pound pack into a remote, steep area for the opening of Montana’s archery hunting season. I felt a little out of shape, but my hip performed beautifully. I continued hunting every weekend until late October, when I harvested an elk. This provided the first real test of the new hip. I carefully packed 65-70 pounds of elk meat over 3 miles of very rugged and steep terrain. I was nervous, but once again the hip did great.
In November (~4 months post-op) I began running again on local steep trails. My strategy was to push hard on the uphill sections and go easy (with trekking poles) on the downhill sections. My hip felt fine. My only concern was falling on the new hip. Fortunately that never happened.
In December (~5 months post-op) I began backcountry skiing again. As expected, my hip felt fine while skinning uphill. Backcountry snow conditions can vary from soft fluffy powder to wind-blown junk. This can make going downhill challenging even for someone with a good hip. Thus, I took it easy and picked my way through downhill sections. My hip felt fine, but I was too mentally scared to let go on downhill sections.
December 28, 2016 was my new hip’s 6 month anniversary. I celebrated by skiing 8 miles into the backcountry and climbing a 10,000’ peak. The snow was soft and irresistible for making turns. I finally decided to turn it loose on the downhills. It was a blast. I even took a fall on the new hip and nothing happened!
So that’s my story. So far, my hip resurfacing experience has been all positive. I know for a fact that I’m way better off than I’d be without having surgery. I know others with total hip replacements that feel the same way. The resurfacing, however, provides more options and maybe more longevity. If you’ve got a funky hip like I once had, I suggest that you contact a surgeon with a reputation like that of Dr. Pritchett, before making a decision. For me, well I’ll keep charging ahead until something goes wrong.