Mobility Improves After Hip Replacement
Morehead City, North Carolina, resident John Bolt III has enjoyed dancing with his wife since their wedding day 54 years ago.
That feeling changed about three years ago when he started experiencing chronic pain in his right hip and back.
“For the last three years, prior to surgery, I pretty much wasn’t able to really get out there and dance,” Bolt said. “It was just too painful.”
His chronic pain also limited his time outdoors playing golf with his friends.
“I had to quit golf. It was just too painful to do that hip movement in a golf swing,” Bolt said. “And I really missed that because, you know, that’s a social activity as well as some physical activity.”
Walking around his neighborhood with his dogs and other daily activities proved challenging for Bolt because of joint pain.
“I wasn’t able to walk as much. I continued to try to walk just because I felt like I needed to do it, but it just got more and more painful,” he said. “It wears you down mentally and emotionally over time.”
Initially, doctors thought Bolt may have had a sciatic nerve problem in his back, but X-rays revealed the problem was actually in his hip.
Explore treatment options
Bolt had a successful knee replacement a few years ago, so he consulted his orthopedic surgeon, Thomas E. Bates, MD, about treatment options for his hip.
Generally, initial treatments to manage chronic pain may include physical therapy, activity modification, anti-inflammatory drugs and sometimes injections in joints, Dr. Bates said. A doctor may recommend hip replacement surgery if a person has one or more of the following:
- Pain that limits everyday activities
- Pain that continues while resting
- Stiffness that limits the ability to move or lift the leg or
- Inadequate pain relief from anti-inflammatory drugs, physical therapy or walking supports
Based on his diagnosis, Bolt opted for total hip replacement surgery. This procedure replaces damaged bone and cartilage with prosthetic components called implants.
“The pain had gotten chronic, and it just never goes away. And that’s pretty mentally debilitating as well as physically debilitating,” Bolt said. “I was really ready to try to get something done to get rid of the pain and to become active again.”
Surgery relieves pain and improves mobility
According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, more than 450,000 total hip replacements are performed each year in the United States.
In February 2022, Bolt underwent the procedure in an outpatient setting. He was discharged from the surgery center the same day to start his recovery and physical therapy at home.
Within three weeks after surgery, Bolt had transitioned from using a walker to a cane and then to walking unassisted. After six weeks, doctors released him to play golf.
“I was pleasantly surprised how quickly I was able to recover,” he said. “If you have the opportunity to recover at home, I mean that seems like a win-win … I certainly got back into our own lifestyle much quicker and with a lot less frustration and tension.”
More than a year later, Bolt has significant pain relief and improved mobility. The Bolts enjoy date nights and dancing together again.
“One of the first things after I got released is we went to one of the local performances and actually got out there and danced for a couple hours. So, that was a good feeling,” Bolt said.
He and his wife walk about two miles every day with their dogs, and he plays golf sometimes twice a week when the weather is suitable.
“I love to hear a patient tell me ‘I wish I would have done this sooner.’ We hear that frequently,” Dr. Bates said. “I love to hear the fact that they get back to the things they love to do in life.”
Don’t delay your treatment
After his successful hip replacement, Bolt said it’s important not to delay treatment when you suffer from daily chronic pain. Before deciding on any treatment plan, it is important to discuss options with your doctor.
“When [hip pain keeps] you from doing anything that involves any type of walking or movement … that’s just not a way to live,” Bolt said. “Get [surgery] done, and then really work at the rehab part. I think that’s important. It gets you back to normal as quickly as possible.”
If you are considering joint replacement, Dr. Bates recommends talking to patients who have had the surgery to gain some insight into their experience.
“Most people have excellent experiences and they’re very happy with their decision,” he said. “It definitely is a personal decision.”
Our specialists always keep the patient in mind and look for the least-invasive and best way to repair your joints. If surgery is needed, our doctors use improved surgical techniques to increase your mobility and return you to an active lifestyle.
If you suffer from chronic pain in the knee, hip, shoulder or back, do not ignore these symptoms, or your condition may worsen. Request an appointment today for an evaluation.
This is designed for educational purposes only. The information provided should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health concern or disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health concern, you should consult your healthcare provider.