Edward Dufini said his hip would make a clicking noise every time he stood up and it was painful when he moved the wrong way. At 73, he was having a hard time going up and down stairs.
After a hip replacement in February, he is back to playing bocce and his hip doesn’t bother him at all.
He previously had two knee replacements at the Bone & Joint Institute at Hartford HealthCare, so he returned to ask about options for his hip pain. He had arthritis and had manual jobs throughout his life, and admitted his weight was a bit of an issue.
His surgeon, Dan Witmer, MD, with the Bone & Joint Institute, said modern hip replacements are minimally invasive and use computer navigated or robotic surgery to implant the joint, improving recovery time and mobility.
“We have been using robotics and computer navigation for about a decade, but the biggest recent advancement is the modern hip implants,” Dr. Witmer said. “They last more than 30 years, so we can perform the surgery on younger patients.”
He said previously if patients were in their 40s or 50s they would tell them to wait, but now with the different materials and components, they no longer advise waiting. The surgery is a minimally invasive, muscle-sparing surgery which can be done from the front or the back, but no major muscles are cut into. This shortens the healing time and improves recovery.
“Within an hour of the operation we can have people standing up, which is a big difference from even seven or five years ago,” Dr. Witmer said. “People care about recovery times, and with advancements in physical therapy and pain management it is a faster recovery, that is the biggest surprise for people. Most of our hip replacement patients feel better in one day.”
Arthritis is the most common reason for hip replacements, or injury from a fall or twist. Once a hip is bone-on-bone, without cartilage, it can be very painful. It also can cause inflammation, then with pain people aren’t as active as they would like to be, which can cause inactivity and weight gain.
Dr. Witmer said weight management is important before and after the surgery. It can help improve recovery and keeping the weight off causes less stress on the joint. “We compare it to brake pads in your car, the more pressure and stress, it will wear out quicker,” he said.
The Bone & Joint Institute offers physical therapy and weight management prior to surgery if it is a concern. “We encourage people to stay active, running is not recommended for hip replacements, but walking, hiking, biking, tennis and golf are all great activities to participate in,” Witmer said.
Dr. Witmer said Dufini’s case was due to advanced arthritis, but it was a routine hip replacement that went smoothly. Physical therapy is offered at home for two weeks after the surgery, then people are back to their usual activities.
Dufini was happy to be back to being more active and social.
“I play bocce at the Italian Independent Club, and I’m able to do work around my yard, I can cut the grass and do other yard work. I also walk on the treadmill every day to keep my weight down,” he said.
He said he had a good experience and the new rooms at the Bone & Joint Institute were more like a hotel than a hospital.
“Now I have no pain at all,” Dufini said.