Robert, 66, had been having hip pain and was pretty sure he would need a full hip replacement surgery. An MRI led him to believe that some type of surgery for hip pain was going to be in his near future.
“I had an MRI in 2020 and it did indicate some hip issues on the left side,” he said.
He learned that he had advanced left hip osteoarthritis, peroneal nerve compression in the area of his left knee, and more issues leading up to his surgery for hip pain.
Robert suffered from dropped foot in the early 2000s when he was living in London. This was caused by a disc problem he had in his lower spine. Though fully recovered, the spinal problems reoccurred in 2019 and required spinal fusion surgery. The foot drop condition also reappeared but didn’t improve as anticipated. This led to a further surgery in early 2020 on the back of his left knee in an area thought to be the source of a trapped nerve. This uncovered another problem: his hip.
Read on to find out how Robert not only repaired his hip, but improved his recreational bike rides around the Chicago lakeshore.
Cycling Prior to Surgery for Hip Pain
“I cycle a lot,” Robert explains, adding that he has a bike indoors for winter cycling and always looks forward to spring when he can return to outdoor riding near his Chicago condo.
“I was noticing that it was harder and harder to get on and off my bicycle because I was pivoting off my left hip,” he said. “That was the first indication that something wasn’t quite right.”
While Robert didn’t have pain while cycling, he noticed it when disembarking. He would experience sharp pain when getting on and off the bike. That’s when he decided to visit Christopher Mahr, MD, an IBJI orthopedic surgeon who specializes in sports medicine as well as joint replacement.
“The top of my femur was worn away on the X-rays, and he said that my left leg was shorter,” Robert recalls. “I was trying to lift my right leg even higher to get on the bike.”
Getting the news about his shorter leg felt like an “aha” moment for Robert. Things started to make a lot of sense.
“I was feeling that difference of having to compensate by lifting my leg higher on the right side,” he said. “I was pivoting against my left hip which wasn’t allowing me much freedom of movement either. Those two things combined made it harder and harder for me to get on my bicycle.”
Robert also noticed, prior to his surgery for hip pain, that when he would stand in front of the bathroom mirror to brush his teeth, he would unconsciously stand with his left heel off the ground in order to stand up straight.
Impressions of Dr. Mahr When Discussing Surgery for Hip
When Robert met with Dr. Mahr, he noticed he had a gentle and compassionate nature. “He was very careful in the way he tried to manipulate my leg a bit,” Robert recalls. “He obviously knew through the X-ray that he couldn’t push it too far. He said it is clear that you will require a full hip replacement.”
Robert shared his medical notes from an MRI in 2020, which showed some hip issues. He also discussed how he lives alone and was concerned about how he would strategically plan out his surgery for hip pain to be able to recover well.
“Dr. Mahr was very friendly and he went very slowly to explain the situation,” he said. “ He showed me the X-ray and the comparison between the left and the right hip.”
Preparing for Surgery for Hip Pain
Robert actually started physical therapy before his surgery for hip pain, an approach that Dr. Mahr has found to be helpful for patients, especially athletes.
“He sent me to a physical therapy class, and with COVID going on and me living downtown, I called and spoke to the woman and was able to register and do a Zoom class with other patients who were going to have surgery,” Robert says.
He says IBJI did a great job of preparing him for surgery for hip pain by providing details about surgery day, what time to arrive, what you can expect, and what to buy beforehand to have at home.
“The raised toilet seat, you cannot go without it,” Robert says. “All of these little props can help you. I think they’re critical.”
Robert performed a number of physical therapy exercises prior to surgery for hip pain. This strengthened muscles that had been weakened to provide a better outcome.
Surgery for Hip Pain: Robert Arrives at the Hospital
It was early in the morning on a Wednesday when Robert called an Uber and got himself to the hospital. His hip had deteriorated fairly quickly in the time he waited for this day, but he wanted to attend two weddings prior to his surgery for hip pain.
“The pain level was just immense those last two weeks so I was more than ready,” he said. “I would say it was an 8 or 9 [on the pain scale]. I couldn’t stand up straight. I was walking bent over.”
He says he even needed a wheelchair to get from the gate at the airport to the cab stand for the out-of-state wedding he attended.
The Week After Surgery for Hip Pain
The following day after his surgery for hip pain, Robert was back at home recovering in his condo. He received regular visits from a home health nurse and physical therapist to help him with mobility and exercises. The nurse checked his vitals and medications.
“First they just had me stand up and move a little bit,” Robert recalls. “I was standing still in front of my walker and using that just to move around. On the second visit, we went out into the corridor and walked up and down with the walker.”
Recovering After Surgery for Hip Pain
By the third home visit after surgery for hip pain, Robert was doing exercises and then advanced to the mezzanine level of his condo building which has common areas and a small gym.
“The nurse said I could start a recumbent bike,” he said. “It’s almost like sitting in a chair.”
After about two weeks of using the recumbent bike, he graduated to a stationary bike that had a wide seat to support his new hip.
Robert completed a total of 15 physical therapy sessions over a few months, finishing just after Christmas of 2021.
“I was able to walk two and a half blocks to physical therapy, and I would take my walker with me because the last thing I wanted to do was fall,” he says.
Walking along busy State Street in Chicago was difficult, but he got more ambitious and graduated to a walking stick.
“I quickly realized that I was progressively gaining confidence,” he says.
Back on His Bike Following Surgery for Hip Pain
It didn’t take too long for Robert to get back to cycling around the city. In mid-January of 2022, he started small with one-mile trips and then advanced to two miles. He was instructed to build up slowly and gradually and he listened carefully to the advice of his physical therapist.
“There is absolutely no pain or discomfort at all,” he says.
How He’s Feeling Today After Surgery for Hip Pain
Now that spring is here and ice is no longer a threat, he has added a lot of miles to his rides along the lakeshore.
He’s glad that he started slowly with the recumbent bike, then graduated to the stationary bike, and then onto the road bike. He has been enjoying rides along the lakefront trail in Chicago, and he estimates that he’s totaled approximately 150 miles on his road bike this year.
“There’s literally no pain at all,” he says. “It’s been quite a nice change.”
The IBJI Experience for Surgery for Hip Pain
Overall, Robert recalls that everything at IBJI went smoothly, professionally. He was comfortable with his surgeon and happy that he can now stand upright without pain.
“When I look back on the pictures of the weddings, I am leaning forward because I couldn’t stand up straight,” he said. “In Christmas pictures and more recent ones, I noticed I’m standing up straight again. That’s one of the great improvements.”
If needed, he says, he would “go fearlessly into a right hip replacement.”
“It’s the little things [at IBJI], like being able to go next door for an X-ray when I thought I would have to go somewhere else,” Robert says. “It’s a great feature to have X-ray services in-house. I don’t know that every orthopedic practice would offer that.”
Get Help for Your Hip Pain
Whether you are just starting your hip care journey or need a second opinion, IBJI hip surgeons are here to help provide you with the necessary care for your ailment. Get the relief you’re seeking with the help of IBJI.
Request an appointment with an IBJI hip surgeon to discuss treatment options like arthroscopic hip surgery and create an individualized approach to your care.
Check out IBJI’s additional online resources for hip care to learn more about conditions and read patient testimonials.
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