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To Your Health: ‘Walking the talk’ after hip replacement at Ingalls

VidCaliendo  |  Supplied photo

Vida Caliendo | Supplied photo

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Updated: January 26, 2014 6:17AM



When it comes to anterior hip replacement surgery, you might say I “walk the talk” with patients at the Ingalls Advanced Orthopedic Institute. And I mean that literally.

You see, I acquired an insider’s perspective of this advanced technique when I underwent anterior hip replacement at Ingalls earlier this year.

I have to admit it was both enlightening and refreshing to be on the receiving end of Ingalls’ trademark orthopedics care — especially when I’m typically the caregiver.

And now that I’m fully recovered and back to work, I’ve become a “walking testimonial” for the hip-replacement patients whom I care for every day at Ingalls.

When I enter a patient room and introduce myself, my hip-replacement patients are amazed to discover I had my own several months ago. I tell them, “You can do this,” and they believe me because there I am, fully recovered and walking around just fine.

But I didn’t always move so effortlessly. I wrestled with arthritis of the left hip for several years, although the pain wasn’t necessarily in my hip at first.

Instead, I had pain from the knee down to the ankle. I would have pain standing, sitting and at rest, but not all the time. Sometimes it felt fine.

Eventually, I made an appointment to see board-certified orthopedic surgeon Dr. David Smith, who helped pioneer the anterior hip at Ingalls several years ago.

He initially recommended nonsurgical treatments, including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to control the pain.

As a nurse, I’m on my feet all day, so I invest in really supportive, comfortable shoes. At first my pain was related to the weather and how much exercise I had done.

But as time went on, my discomfort worsened, and I found myself limping throughout the day.

Earlier this year, Dr. Smith recommended anterior hip replacement surgery.

As a nurse at the Ingalls AOI, I’ve seen hundreds of anterior hip patients — from 40 to 90 years old — up and moving around the same day of surgery. I had no doubt this was the right surgery for me. And I was in good company, too.

About anterior hip replacement

Nearly 300,000 Americans undergo hip-replacement surgery each year, followed by an extensive, activity-limiting recovery process.

But not all hip surgeries are the same.

Surgeons at the Advanced Orthopedic Institute at Ingalls offer a unique alternative approach, accessing the hip joint from the front, or anterior.

The anterior approach minimizes the pain and time from surgery to recovery, which is important for someone like me who works full time. Even better, a wider range of patients — including larger, heavier patients — may be candidates.

This advanced technique involves a single small incision on the front (or anterior) of the hip, allowing orthopedic surgeons such as Dr. Smith to work between the muscles and tissues without detaching them from either the hip or thigh bones. This spares them from trauma and a lengthy healing process.

Keeping the muscles intact is also the key to greater hip strength after surgery. And since the incision is in front, patients avoid the pain of sitting on the incision site.

What I like best about the surgery is that within a couple of days, anterior hip patients can bend their hip freely, bear weight, climb stairs, and most important, go home, where they can resume normal activities in as few as eight weeks or less.

I spent two days in the hospital and then began physical therapy. I was given narcotic pain medications while I was an inpatient but stopped taking them once I was discharged. I took plain Tylenol for the first two weeks at home and then stopped that too because I didn’t have any pain.

I’m a big fan of regular physical activity, so I also credit my quick recovery to my exercise regimen of walking and Pilates. I’m especially excited to resume dancing again now that my hip is healed, and I’m pain-free.

I’m so thankful to Dr. Smith and my colleagues at the Ingalls AOI who took such excellent care of me. Anterior hip replacement has given me the chance to move around again freely, without pain.

If you or someone you know is suffering from hip pain, call the Ingalls Advanced Orthopedic Institute at (708) 915-7246 today. You’ll be glad you did.

Vida Caliendo is a registered nurse for the Ingalls Advanced Orthopedic Institute. Ingalls Health System is a member of the Southland Health Alliance.



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