It is well documented that I love climbing and other sports, and in 2007 after months of suffering excruciating pain in my right hip, I was diagnosed with Osteoarthritis. Doctors told to come back in 15 years for a hip replacement.
As the pain got progressively worse I wondered how long I could take Cocodamol, Paracetamol, Ibuprofen and Tramadol to keep me going. I even suffered Anaphylaxia after a prescribed drug didn’t agree with me. At the time I was working on a Duke of Edinburgh Expedition in the Lake District, and have never felt so vulnerable or close to death. I was helpless from the time it took to get to Penrith hospital until they administered Adrenalin which brought my heart rate up from 44 to 98 within seconds, and my body into uncontrollable convulsions.
The summer of 2010 saw me struggling to walk more than a mile without popping pills and using walking poles. My Doctor referred me to a specialist and on August 2nd I was told the results of my x-rays and MRI scan and that I had significant wear on the right hip and he would be happy to do a Total Hip Replacement. Close to tears and bewildered by this news I agreed that was the way forward. The operation would be sometime in December 2010. Perfect this would fit in with the calendar in that December and January were slow months for Monsterclimbs.
As it began to dawn on me that this could be the end of my climbing career, I began to search for information as to how successful a hip replacement operation would be. I was still very flexible in the pelvis, it was just very painful and I had difficulty walking. Would I be better off?
I began to have second thoughts. I was gripped with this premonition of becoming an observer. I also had my Mountain Instructor Award to complete. I was running out of time – to make a decision for this year at least.
The Hip Replacement Operation
My pre op assessment went without a hitch in September, but I still hadn’t seen a consultant as regards my fears and queries, and after several phone calls I eventually arranged to have a consultation with the surgeon on 24th November; with the operation due to take place December 8th.
I didn’t see the surgeon, Mr Knudsen for my consultation, I saw a member of his team, who I won’t name and shame but his manner was such that I named him Dr Deeath. No, he couldn’t give me any reassurances as to whether my condition would improve post op, he was only human and made mistakes. I could end up with one leg shorter than the other; I could be allergic to the prosthetic which would be unfortunate and terribly messy. I could die on the operating table! Yes, my physical fitness could help but wasn’t a forgone conclusion.
I left feeling pretty depressed, but I was doomed either way. My movement was becoming more and more restricted and was beginning to affect my climbing. I surfed the internet for information, and eventually found an article on Wayne Sleep, a ballet dancer who had undergone a hip replacement operation and was back on stage dancing Swan Lake 3 months post op. Was that possible?
I then found an American site that referred to athletes undergoing Total Hip Replacement. It stated that your physical fitness, flexibility, muscle strength etc enabled you to return to your pre op fitness IF you followed a strict and progressive training programme.
I went into hospital on Wednesday 8th December 2010. My surgery began at 13.30. My anaesthetist Dr Twigg was an angel; gentle, reassuring and immensely skilled. I woke up at 16.30, numb from the waist down, my legs wedged apart and my lower limbs being electronically stimulated, and attached to a morphine drip.
Recovery and Physiotherapy
My recovery was such that by Friday morning they issued me with crutches, sent me up and down a flight of stairs and within 48 hours of coming round from my operation I was on my way home with a few aids to help my recovery; crutches, toilet seat, stool, shoe horn, foam wedge, sock assister and the gripper.
The pain initially was intense, with very little mobility. I had to use both crutches at all times and sleep on my back for 6 weeks. I had to assist my operated leg in and out of bed. I’m not one to sit down and do nothing and was looking forward to my physiotherapy programme and my planned recovery.
My first appointment was on Christmas Eve and was quite reassuring. I was given a series of exercises to encourage mobility and flexibility and to do as much walking as possible, with no more than 50% weight on the operated leg. I did my exercises religiously 3 or 4 times a day and began walking into Tewkesbury where I live and then further afield, building up my strength and stamina.
However, when I returned on 11th January 2011 I was in for a big disappointment. I had already surpassed the physiotherapist’s expectations and she had nothing more to offer me.
I decided I could manage my own recovery. That afternoon 5 weeks after surgery I went climbing for the first time. I began by bouldering gently, traversing mostly, just a foot or so from a padded floor, and only doing moves I felt comfortable with. I listened to my body. Although I was still officially on crutches, I found myself ‘forgetting’ to use them or just using one.
Climbing after the Hip Replacement Operation
By the 6 week post op consultation I had abandoned my crutches, though I did use walking poles on walks over 4 miles. I continued to boulder, becoming more confident leaving the floor, but always down climbing and no jumping off. I led my first climb on the 31st January, though I did find the harness a little uncomfortable. By early February I was bouldering at 6b+ and by late February leading 6a. I was still wary of taking a leader fall. I continued to boulder and sport lead climb and felt my body respond and the flexibility and strength return.
On 7th March 2011, I led my first trad routes. It was like leading for the first time. The gear felt heavy, as did my body. I was so frightened of falling off before I got the first piece of gear in. Dislocating my hip was my greatest concern. I led Exchange, VS 4b and The Druid VS 4c. I was scared stiff and didn’t enjoy it. Was this the end of my trad leading life? I continued leading VS trying to build up my mental strength and suddenly I was leading E1 and then E2, and hoping to lead E3 by the summer.
I continue to improve and have begun doing yoga again, which is helping to reawaken muscles and improve joint flexibility, but my new hip sticks out further and my leg is slightly longer. But then again I have my life back.
It is now over 2 and a half years since I had the operation and all was going well until in July 2011 I snapped my right Achilles playing tennis. The injury was much worse to recover from than the THR as I was completely immobile for 4 weeks in a plaster cast and then a further 3 weeks before I could even think about weight bearing on my injured foot.
It has been suggested that the snapping of the Achilles is directly linked to the THR because everything could be just slightly out. BUT I disagree. I believe that as my hip got progressively worse, I did less and less aerobic activities, just restricted myself to walking, climbing and yoga. Once I had the THR and all my pain disappeared I thought I was invincible and began bounding about everywhere. Playing tennis after an 8 year break would probably have resulted in a rupture of the Achilles regardless of the THR. What I should have done with hindsight is built up my aerobic fitness gradually, and progressed to playing tennis over a period of time. I have probably lost my chance now to play tennis agressively again, but have rediscovered cycling as a way to keep aerobically fit. The advantage is that not only am I working the Achilles and my still quite tight calf muscle but am exercising without weight bearing on my joints – a very good way of keeping my new hip maybe that little bit longer.
I had my 18 month post op consultation in August 2012 and the surgeon was very pleased with my progress. To be honest most of the time I forget I’ve even got a prosthetic hip.The downside of the visit was he ‘noticed’ I have dysplasia – where the hips are at a sloping angle. It was probably the reason my hip wore out so quickly and he was surprised it hadn’t dislocated at some point, the angle was so shallow. He also said the left hip was deteriorating and would need replacing in the not too distant future.
The Achilles – 2 years on has healed well, the cycling is helping – I can now do 20 miles in just over an hour – but the calf muscle is still an inch smaller than the left, and is faintly ridiculous and I can only raise myself an inch or so off the ground but it doesn’t seem to have affected my climbing which in the end is what it’s all about.
Me leading Hell’s Kitchen HVS 5a at Fairhead, Northern Ireland – May 2013. Check out the bridging – the right leg harbours the prosthetic.
Jessica Ellis says
I am 29 and just a week out of THR left side, your blog i keep re reading again and again for inspiration, as i climb albeit not as high a grade as you and not as long as you have been but am a fit and very active person. Right now this leg feels like it will never do anything much again. If you get a second would love to email you just for some real life reassurance that what i am experiencing is normal, and when i may see some improvement. if i could go bouldering after 6 weeks that would be a dream come true.
michael nicolaou says
will go in for a double THR next month!i love my sports surfing boxing!walking.but so worried that i wont be able to take part again.it makes me smile that you wont let it take over your life.mike
Just read your blog. Got the news last week i need a right hip replacement. i’ve been a pro athlete all my life, this news has really thrown me… the worry is how much & how long will it take to recover & will i be able to train as much even though i’m no longer doing it for a living, i train religiously… Do you think i could resume that level?………………… also, do you feel any pain or discomfort in the hip now & who was you surgen?
Jess Ellis says
@Johnny I am now 4 weeks post op and the only pain i have is muscular and that’s from religiously exercising the muscles and following Physio Strictly. Its a nice pain! Its a getting stronger pain. I am walking without crutches, introduced ankle weights this weekend which help my balance and work the muscles at the same time. You will be fine if you have the motivation from day one to exercise as much as you can you will exceed expectations i am sure. Good Luck.
PS. My surgeon was a Mr Nejad in Watford but he specializes in young patients and rare cases which mine was.
I got my hip replacement in 2008. I was only 48 at the time and struggled with the pain and final decision to get one as well. It was the best thing I ever did. I am athletic, however not religious or professional by any means, but I am very active and enjoy sports. After the surgery, I did pool therapy for the first 8 weeks which made me feel whole again. (personally I would insist on this) and weightlifting has kept me strong and active. The biggest things, I was told, to remember is that the harder and more jarring a sport is on your hip, the sooner you will have to have it replaced in the future. I don’t run, play tennis or jump rope anymore but I do want to try climb (which I have never done by the way) and I think after reading this, I will give it a try 🙂
Hi Jessica, sorry for the late reply. I’ve had trouble accessing the comments and my web manager has just sorted it out. How are you doing? You are very young to have a THR. I just listened to my body and did what felt right, pushing a little further each time. I have had a set back, however, but don’t know whether it is related to the right hip replacement. I was playing tennis 5 weeks ago and completely snapped my right achilles tendon. I dont know if its just one of those things or whether because everything is slightly out of line (my prosthesis is slightly too big for my slight frame, so shoulder of femur sticks out further and my right knee ached for first few weeks) there was more pressure on the achilles in the wrong place. Anyway I am now recovering and am in my cam walker boot after having the tendon reattached and 4 weeks in a plaster cast. My personal email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Let me know how you are getting on. Ali
Hi Mike, how are you doing? Have you had your double THR. I didn’t know they did both sides at the same time. You’re recovery will probably be slower as a result but let me know how you are getting on and if there’s anything I can do to help contact me on my personal email email@example.com. Ali
Hi Johny, I’m sure you will get back to peak physical fitness. If you are very fit to start with, thats where you should get back to. It will take time and you have to listen to your body. Take it slow to start, the aim is to get your muscles strong to stop the new hip dislocating, so you should be a step ahead already. They reattach the ligament on the outside of the joint but the ligament inside the joint is ground away to make way for the prosthetic acetabulem(socket). I have no pain or discomfort at all in my hip and can pretty much do everything I could before. I have lost about 15% flexibility, but its very specific and only affects me on certain contorted moves when I’m climbing, when my hip says ‘bugger off I cant do that’. I have had a slight set back in that I have snapped my right Achilles 5 weeks ago. I have yet to find out if its related. I have a very small frame and was given a small prosthetic which has put my right leg slightly out of line by about a third of an inch! I wont be playing tennis again. Please let me know how you get on. Contact me by my personal email firstname.lastname@example.org. Ali
Hi Barb, the pool therapy sounds fantastic. One of my major gripes was the lack of physio help. Once I could walk ok that was it. Job done. I think there should be an offer of sports physio especially for NHS patients who do sports activities for a living. If you want to try climbing you can always book monsterclimbs. Keep up the good work. Ali
Just read your blog . I am 46 a Judo player i had a right hip replacement two weeks ago 16th september 2011 so far things going well i am walking current with the aid of crutches about a mile. i have only seen the hospital Physio and was given 3 exersices to do ( as per hip replacement booklet ) leg up in front up to 90 degrees and swing leg out wards and back wards, i was wondering what sort of physio you did and how long was it when you started walking without crutches. hope things are still going well for you thanks for your blog it gave me a lot of encouragement Rich
Hi Rich, I stopped using my crutches at about 5 weeks. I have an uncemented hip, so was supposed to use crutches for 6 weeks, but kept forgetting to use them, so I assumed I didn’t need them anymore. As regards physio, the hospital gave me the same exercises you were given then 2 weeks later was given a whole group of exercises from the Doctors physio that were slightly more advanced, but weren’t really designed to get me fit for climbing so at 5 weeks post op I began gentle bouldering as I wanted to get back into climbing asap. I just listened to my body. I read a lot, I have a good background in anatomy and physiology, looked on athlete recovery websites, and strengthened the muscles by doing the type of activity I wanted to get back to. I don’t know a lot about Judo, but obviously avoid physical contact for a while but build up the movement. My hip flexibility has never changed and I’m still as flexible as I was before the op but without the pain. Let me know how you get on. I snapped my Achilles in my right heel in July and have had to undergo a whole new programme of recovery – far more difficult and slower than a hip replacement. There will be a post about it soon. Ali
After reading your blog I feel very reassured. I will be undergoing left thp in a week or so. Being an active climber and wakeboarder, doom had set in to weather I could still participate. Unfortunately I’m no longer able to wakeboard but I can still climb. I’ve submitted my email address and would it be possible to talk regarding dos and donts for climbing and and physiology routines you could offer. Thanks
Thank you. I’m glad you find it so interesting. I had very little information available to me, especially as I am so active and wanted others to know what was possible once the operation was done. Ali
Thanks for this information Ali. I just had a left total hip replacement about three and 1/2 weeks ago. I have always been much more active and competitive then most people and so have been pretty nearly frightened at the though of what limitations I would face. It’s great to hear you were able to get back to nearly normal activities and to do so in such short order. I was able to walk almost a mile and a half today with no crutches or cane. Reading your post this morning was part of my motivation! Thanks again!
That’s incredible – 1 and a half miles without any crutches or cane. You must be very pleased. Its being able to get around without any pain that’s the best bit. I just hope its a few years before I need the left one doing or the right one replaced. Keep me up to date as to your progress. You can always contact me on email@example.com. Cheers Frank.
Hello, I am 6 months post op from Left THR ceramic on ceramic. I have always been a sports person, I have competed in ironman triathlons, endurance water skiing and mountain biking and my families social activity is water skiing.
I am finding it difficult to work out what I am allowed to do and not allowed to do, I am allowed to cycle but not race or mountain bike, and I am not allowed to run. I have been advised against water skiing, I don’t know whether the doctors are just being over cautious to cover themselves, but if I do something they have advised me against doing and hurt myself, I am not going to be very popular at the hospital or more to the point at home!
I am really strong already and at physio I am stronger and more stable at some of the exercises than even non hip people. That’s the problem, I feel so good! but I need something exciting and challenging to do, I am not coping at all with being a “watcher”
Hi Tony, its very frustrating isn’t it. May I ask how old you are?
Doctors advise all sorts of things but we are responsible adults and it’s really up to us what we do with our bodies.
If you can cycle I don’t see why you can’t mountain bike. If you’ve read my article about my snapped achilles I’d advise running gently to start and build up your bodies overall strength and LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. My climbing patrner fell off climbing and broke his back in 3 places, they told him NEVER to climb again. He was climbing again within 3 months and continues to climb well many years on. I think one of the reasons they advise so strongly against doing these activities is to save money – they don’t want you back in! As regards water skiing all you can do is start gently, see how it feels. If it feels right do it if not try again in a few weeks time. You only live once and I don’t like watching either. If you have been fit all your life then chances are you will get back to where you were pre op.If you’d like to reply via my personal email: firstname.lastname@example.org I’d be happy to chat further. Let me know how you get on. Ali
JACKIE STEADMAN says
Hi, Tony just a few words of reassurance – I broke my hips in a ski accident 6 years ago and finally had the left hip replaced 2 years ago and needed the right one doing last year. The recovery is fantastic so long as you keep generally fit – i was back in my gym within two weeks of each operation (couldnt drive so had to be dropped off) – doing exercises recommended by the physio. Within 6 months of each op I was back playing tennis – non competitive doubles, pilates & yoga twice a week (great for flexibility & mobility/strength), snow skiing (keep on piste and avoid moguls – fell a lot at Easter and it wasnt good!), water skiing – again gentle mono (hips are in alignment). So all in all – good recovery so keep positive and listen to your body. Good luck
Stumbled on this googling “rock climbing/rappelling after hip replacement”. Back story – almost 6 years post bilateral hip replacment at 56. Best decision of my life and have done things since that I wouldn’t have/couldn’t have before like GC rafting & hiking and trapeze. As you may be able to tell I am not a climber but am very interested in doing a canyoning adventure (mostly guided rappells) in Costa Rica for my 2012 physical challenge – an annual celebratory event I started after my surgery. Plan to start training now with the trip in Dec. Any advice/tips?
Hi, i had my THR six weeks ago to this day. My recovery has been going very well, better than i expected. Im a climber amongst other things and have missed my activities. Today im on the bus heading to thr climbing gym to celebrate my 6 weeks. Im so excited. Everyone going throgh this just work hard
Well done to you. As far as training goes you need to do activities which will reflect the type of physical aspects of canyoning. Scrambling is good, as you use both hands and feet. Will you be carrying a pack? If you are you will need to train with one of similar weight.How long are the days? If full days you need to build up stamina. Going over boulder fields on beaches etc is good. If you want any days with Monsterclimbs scrambling let me know. It sounds fabulous but let me know how you get on. You can email me on email@example.com.
Hi Jan, you sound very positive and that’s good. I think the more active and the more determined you are to get back to where you were the better your recovery. Keep up the good work. Alimonster
Thanks for the response and tips. As I am in New England boulder scrambling at the beach sounds like an excellent and fun way to start my training. I have a choice of several tours regarding duration/terrain so once I have a handle on what my body and brain 🙂 are comfortable with I let you know what I choose. Typically I try to go for one notch up from the comfort level just to keep it interesting!
I am having a THR in 4 weeks time, I am very scared. Dont know why, but I cant just come to terms with it. Your blog has really encouraged me. Thanks
Hi Ken, I was scared too. Its a big deal, but not complicated surgery. Success rates are high. I wish you the best of luck. I’m glad the blog has helped. Please let me know how you get on. Ali
Thanks for publishing this! I found it through the Wayne sleep’s link on a search engine. I’m 41 ex marathon runner, horse rider, climber and weight trainer and I teach boot camp fitness. I am terrified of the op as they have said I can’t run again, and part of me feels what’s the point if I can still run but be in pain afterwards, but I have had to come to terms with not being able to any of the sports I love. The hardest thing was teaching fitness and watching people work out who weren’t as fit but their bodies still worked.. I guess I have been very angry with my body for not doing as it was told and getting on with it. How did you come to terms with the implant? I can’t get my head round the idea of my leg attached to the rest of me by a chunk of metal and ceramic. My surgeon is cheesed off I keep asking questions but I figure better to be informed. My goal is to run with my 4 year old again, as this effects her as much as me as I can’t play with her the way I want to or she wants. She just wants her mum to run with her again. So to that end, I am determined to get back to my fitness levels before, but I am considering changing to cycling to save the hip, but I get too bored swimming. I want to get back on a horse and ride again, as I can’t get my leg up anymore to get on. So my goal is to be positive, suck it up and get on with it and get myself rehabbed faster then the surgical team know. But is is so encouraging to see your blog and that you got back to doing what you love, as that is what scares me the most….
Hope your achilles is doing better now..
Hi Vickki, I can’t give you any promises, but going off my experience I was terrified too, but 18 months on my scar is very faint – I hardly notice it. I am doing everything I did before, but without the pain. I did as I was told for the first 5 – 6 weeks as I was scared to death of it dislocating, and there is a lot of pain, which does limit what you can do, but after that I just went from strength to strength. I don’t know why they are saying you can’t run again. It’s my understanding, but I’m not a surgeon!,that you become as fit as you were before the op, and the fitter you are the quicker you recover as you have the physiology to start with. Think of it as a new opportunity.
As regards having an implant in my body, it doesn’t feel any different, though my right femur shoulder does stick out half an inch more than my left, but this is only really noticeable to me and I am very slim, so quite bony anyway.
Snapping your Achilles is far more traumatic that a THR, as you cant do anything for 7 weeks ( although I did do some scrambling with my Walker Boot on) and the recovery is much slower. I am back to full fitness but my calf muscle is still a little weedy and I can’t elevate the same, but it’s getting better and fortunately I am climbing as well as I did before. Climbing is MY PASSION and I hope to keep doing it until I completely seize up.
However, I do keep hearing very bad things about running and the impact on your joints and have taken up cycling and am doing about 80 miles a week. Its good for building my calf muscle and is low impact on the joints so hopefully my new hip might last longer.
Keep in touch and let me know how you get on. You can contact me on my personal email firstname.lastname@example.org
been reading your blogs with interest. Had THR 12 wks ago, am 60 yo, not aerobic due to lung ‘complications’ but love to be active: can I do long walks in Northern Australian rainforest as I used to (plenty of trees but being female never did learn to pee standing up. Can I resume usual manner in time?) How long? Also involves steep climbing, loose scree etc… I did Tai Chi a long time, has cross mid-line steps, round-house kicks: are these possible again? And dance steps? (I’m not as muscular as a ballet dancer!) Meditation – cross-legged (half-lotus, knees not sticking up): can I do this again? So far answers are vague at best or negative or don’t know.
Most of you sound more athletic but hope someone out there maybe can re-assure me that climbing under/over fences, squatting, sitting on a floor is possible. THEN I’ll consider what the breezy post-THR booklets say: you can do everything you used to do before it became too painful!
Hi Melia, in my experience and with others you should go back to how you were before you the pain became unbearable, so long as you remained pretty active/supple before the op. I have lost about 5% flexibility and my hip does thunk from time to time. How are you doing at the moment?
hi all, thanks for reply. Am doing very well I think, have done climbing walks, out of condition still…, but feel almost as strong on operated side as the ok side, only diff is doesn’t like to lift me if a highish step up. Am avoiding that for now. Found out I can (?) bend more than the 90 deg after 12 weeks. Anyone confirm this? Physios are rather anal and not forthcoming with info. LIke someone else, even tho we do have an 8 wk pool physio I feel I’m already beyond what is on offer & want more. So walking as much as poss feels good, apart from stress on L foot because L leg is 2cm longer.
Any others with additional leg length – has anyone felt they’ve adjusted if 2cm or more?
Any indication it won’t always be hard on knee and foot of operated side will be great, am not comfortable with having inserts as live in tropics, mostly barefoot or light sandals except for walking boots
Its 4 weeks ago today I had the op, and I am getting on with it! I was out of hospital nearly on day two as I had gone from Zimmer frame to 2 walking sticks to 1 in 2 days. I found my low blood pressure a nightmare, as the staff thought I had something wrong with me and not that my blood pressure is low anyway. I did try and stand up the same day but keeled over, in front of my husband and the physio. Same thing happenened the next day, but I got myself up later on it the day and made it across the room, and I was off! By midday I was lapping the corridor outside my room, and teh physio tooks the frame away and gave me 2 sticks. By the end of the first day post op I had, done about 15 lengths of the corridor, a few steps and the flight of stairs round the corner.They sent me home on day 3, having threatened to send me home the day before. I think my legs are the same length, and I am not bothered by the scar too much, and my leg looks like me, so those worries are ok. Now I feel the frustration of the physio. She has never dealt with a case like mine before, so she is working from a text book. I do feel very frustrated but at the same time I know I cant push it too much, but today I am allowed to bike for 5 mins! I am going back to the gym to do some weights and a bit of static rowing. I am surprised by the degree of muscle loss in my left leg. But I do enjoy astounding the physio by progressing faster then she is ready for. I will email you privately but I wanted to let you know I was ok, just desperate to get back to being me. I am a tad fed up of being told what I can’t do and not what I can.
I was so pleased to find this story. Well done to all of you. I went through 3 hips replacements in the past 10 years, because the first got infected after 2 years. I spent 6 months in hospital and was without any hip for for that time. I had always been a keen sports enthusiast and am living in New Zealand. I had climbed half the Munros before I went to work there 20 years ago and had always wanted to climb all 282 of them. In the past two years I have been able to climbs another 22 Munros without any pain, and the only problem is being a bit slower-probably because I am now 57. I have now climbed 154 of these 3,000 foot mountains. Is there anyone out there who has been climbing Scottish Munros with both hips replaced? My best wishes to all. John
Well done to you. It’s good to hear so many inspirational stories. There are so many determined people out there who seem to overcome their difficulties and achieve the impossible. Keep in touch with your progress. Ali
Hi Vickki, you are doing incredibly well. You sound like Wonderwoman. I take it you have an uncemented hip. Once your 6 weeks is up you can begin to start your rehab more intensely. It seems physios have a set protocol to follow which is useless for people like us. I think the NHS should employ specialist sports physios. We deserve more specialist attention due to our level of fitness and dedication to something that is keeping us healthy. You are an inspiration for others. Keep me posted. Ali
You sound like you’re doing very well. Physios just follow their protocol and don’t seem to know what to do beyond that, but you have to listen to your own body. I can do the full lotus, though it is a little uncomfortable, and the frog, cartwheels, handstands, bridging, high steps, rockovers etc.
It’s a shame about the length difference. Inserts are probably your only sensible option. If you don’t use them your body will have to adjust tothe difference and will probably put extra strain on your knees, but I’m no specialist. Let me know what you decide. Ali
This gives me hope. I have had arthritis from a femur repair when I was a teenager. Indoor climbing and Pilate’s is the only spot I have done in the last 15 years and am at 43 ready for a replacement. I am still bearing the pain as I am worried it is the last time I I’ll climb. All the advice I read was against climbing. I only lead 6b/ second 6c but means a lot to me
Glad to find some positive stories. I was diagnosed via x-ray with ostioarthritis in the left hip, when the anti-inflammaroties didn’t help, was sent for an MRI showing a torn labrum, but surgeon A said building that was out of the question, so referred to Surgeon B for a replacement. It may be a resurfacing or a THR (the size of my femoral head may be at the lower limit of his comfort zone for resurfacting).
So I’m just in this anxiety stage of what will life be like trying to keep up with my 2 young boys (4 and 7, who just discovered indoor climbing this year). But it has to be better than being sidelined. From everything I have read, it sounds like rigourous ultimate frisbee is not advisable, but I should be able to get back to other sports pain free.
Simon Bennet says
I’m a trainee orthopaedic surgeon based in Bristol and a keen climber and mountaineer.
I’ve recently finished a diploma in expedition medicine and am just starting my masters thesis which is going to be looking at mountain sports (especially rock climbing) following Total Hip and Knee replacements.
One of the big challenges in orthopaedics these days is meeting the expectations of fit and active patients like you lot who want to get back to doing all the sports you love post-op. The traditional advice has been to avoid high-demand/high impact sports due to wear and tear on your new joint but this is more based on expect opinion than experimental evidence.
The Hip and Knee societies have issued guidance about what sports you should and shouldn’t do following joint replacements but they haven’t gone into much detail about what specific outdoor activities should be regarded as high risk and what’s low risk for the long term health of your joint. I’m going to look into this in a bit of detail so that doctors are in a better position to advice patients who are keen on outdoor activities. This work will be in conjunction with the International Alpine Medical Committee.
I’m also trying to establish a group of active individuals who have had hip or knee replacements and who now climb/ski/trek etc and ask them to complete questionnaires to see just how well their new joints are functioning, what sports they’re managing to do and if they’d had any problems like dislocations or need for revision surgery.
If anyone is interested in getting involved or know someone who may be I’d be really grateful if you get in touch.
Happy climbing everyone!
Hi to all and congrats for all the ones fighting to overcome OA. I am male – 41yrs old and diagnosed with degenerative oa in my left hip 6 years ago. My question if there is anyone with experience of doing contact or intense sports several years after hip replacement – most of the stories I read is 1-2 years after. My doctor suggested to start considering the THR as cardilage is worn out significantly, in order to (a) be back to “normal” for the next 20-25yrs (b) avoid any side effects on waist or right leg. I am a little doubtful to move ahead. My background: I am lightweight and was doing intense recreational contact sports (4-5d a week), mainly soccer and beachvolley (summer) also jogging and mountain bike. I’ve cut down on most of the activities and started swimming (2-3d/week – 1hr each time), but I couldn’t bear not playing soccer so I returned to play 5 a side with my team twice a week (40′ eachtime), with deteriorating though flexibility (less than 80 degrees lift and no outer stretch flexibility), I can jog in a very slow pace – can not last a sprint for more than 30″ or shoot the ball with left feet, due to accute pain (cardillage is worn out completely at a certain point). Still I feel I can bear the pain (I do not take any pain killers), I can walk few kms (even with a very slight limp) or can do day to day and work activities with sustainable discomfort (actual do more than non-fit people of my age do). Sports wise though I started have pain on right knee and ankle + waist (as obvious they are trying to compensate for the loss of movement/power of left him). I was told that I should leave operation up until I can not sleep due to pain. The fact of doing an THR that early (41) and potential need of a revision frightens me somehow. Any views?
Hi, the problem you have in my opinion and I’m not an orthopoedic surgeon is the longer you leave it the more pain you will suffer – it is amazing that you continue to exercise so aggressively without pain killers. I was at my maximum medication including Tramadol before I had my op. The cartilage was gone and the ends of my bones were beginning to fuse. That is when the real pain begins and you cannot sleep without drugs. Really the decision is down to you. The THR takes away all the pain, recovery will be a little slower for you as they will probably give you an uncemented hip, as it is likely to be replaced again, which means only 50% weight on the new hip for first 6 weeks. Cemented hips are usually given to older patients who are not likely to wear them out.
It certainly gave me a new lease of life. I climb as well as I did before, and although I felt vulnerable to start with I quickly got past that as I regained my fitness and confidence.
As a final thought, in my experience of other people with THR’s and other operations it’s down to you what you do. Doctors and surgeons will recommend what you musn’t or cannot do, but it’s how you feel and how determined you are that counts. I have changed some of the things I do to maintain the integrity of all my joints – I now cycle a lot so that I can maintain my fitness for the sport I most enjoy and is my livelihood – climbing. High impact sports in general are not great on the body, maybe it’s an opportunity to try new things, open new doors.
Keep in touch. My personal email is email@example.com. Let me know how you get on. Ali
Its now been 4 months since my THR on the L hip and I have finally managed to see my surgeon for a follow up. Well I had gone in with a list as long as your arm of questions, how long before I can do this and that.. My physio wanted to know what she could and couldn’t do with me.
This is the shortened version of the list
Weight training – yes! Even squats..!!! 🙂
Cycling – yes I can get back on my racer, not just the mountain bike… I can now do easily 20 plus miles in a day, even with my daughter sitting on the child’s bike seat behind me.
Horse riding – I have been back on a horse a few times now, the only thing I changed was how I got off! Just swung my leg over the neck instead of over the back…. Oh and I now use a mountaing block…
Skiing – Yes but don’t be silly with it
My preferred option was the cross country skiing, as its more low impact and a good substitute for running in the winter in Germany. So Lang laufing is OK too.
Rowing – used to row at novice level at a club in Henley on Thames and I can now go back to it as I can easily manage a full slide now on the rowing machine.
Rock climbing – enough said, but I shall be doing it again!
For me the most important one is the running! I spoke to my surgeon at length before the op about my “ocd” / need for running, and had basically said there was no point having the op in my view unless I could run again. Anyway today he totally blew me away by saying I could go back to running tomorrow if I want, just to start gently… Well considering the week leading up to the appointment was hideous, this feels like I have won the lottery!!! Now I am here in the UK, wishing I was at home in Germany with my beloved trainers looking for a bit of soft ground to run on!
Still, its been a long slog. I have to say I take my hat off to the older generation who have this done as I salute you for getting on and doing it.
My advice which my sister told me ( she is a double THR, like my mum) have it done sooner rather then later as your muscles are in a better shape to handle it and why put yourself through the pain?
I have been very fortunate to have the physios at my husbands Army base take a real interest in me, they don’t see manyinjuries/ operations like mine. They managed to squeeze me into Army hydrotherapy sessions to help me strengthen my leg / joint.(The only down side was the pool was outside, I am skinny and it was very cold, doing slow walking exercises in 25C water when the outside temp was 5C) They have monitored me very well and kept me from doing too much too soon! But also upped the exercises as needed. The only real thing was waiting for the bony in growth in the implant to take, which is apparently 6 weeks or so according to my surgeon, my physio was more cautious then the surgeon but not in a bad way, and I think it made me work harder to achieve something new each week.
Of course there have been ups and downs, but on the whole 90% and maybe 5-10% downs, mostly due to my frustration in the beginning of having to wait for bony in-growth. I was on walking sticks by day 3 and after a week 1 stick only. I had to use that for about another 3 weeks, more to keep people from jostling into me and to remind my husband I wasn’t as fast as normal.
I should point out that I mentioned the noticeable difference I have in range of motion in abduction in my L when compared to my right. The answer really surprised me at how much my surgeon had really listened to me. He said he had put the acetabular cup in at a smaller angle then normal to increase the weight bearing surface and allow me to run again without hopefully having to have another replacement.The change in angle meant I have traded weight bearing surface and ability to run again with range of motion in abduction. For me that’s a small trade off if it means I can run about again and play with my now 5 year old daughter.
Its obvious to me that hip dysplasia and FAI’s run in our family and so I will be keeping a very close eye on her as she grows up. If I can prevent this happening to her, I’ll move heaven and earth to do it.
The best feeling was being able to chase her and the dogs about in the park like a normal person again, so for those wondering out there, you can lead a normal life after one of these, just make sure you tell your surgeon EVERYTHING you want to do and why it is so important. I was lucky – Mine got it! he has now asked me to write a few emails, detailing all the activities I am doing so He can show other younger patients its not what feels like a death sentence. I shall now continue to learn a new sport every year as I used to, but I think I wont be renewing my skydiving licence! Thanks again Ali for your blog, its the only one of its kind and is very important for the younger fitter types to know life doesnt have to end with the THR op.
I would be very interested in helping out in any way I can. I am halfway through a Masters in Veterinary Physio, so I can relate to a lot of what you’ve said. Email is vfrainbyrne at hotmail.com.
Let me know if you need anything from me.
Hi Vicki, I was so impressed with your email, I’ve posted it as an article on my website. How old are you if you don’t mind me asking? I totally agree about having the op sooner rather than later before too much damage is done and you lose too much strength and flexibility. Your account is inspirational regardless of the THR. If you could send me a couple of pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org I will add them to the article. Keep in touch. Kind regards Ali
I’m a 49 yo professional Firefighter who had bilateral hip replacements within the last 18 months. The pain started in my rt.groin area about 4 years ago following back surgery. The pain progressively worsened to the point it was difficult to walk or climb into the fire engine. Several physicians and other medical personnel diagnosed it as nerve damage from my back surgery. In a last ditch effort before I filed for disability I went to a chiropractor who ordered several X rays before he would start treatment. To my surprise he stated my left hip was shot and that was the cause of the pain.
This is where the story starts to get better. I was seen at one of the big Clinics in the Cleveland area. I had my left hip replaced and was told my rt. hip was not far behind. The surgical approach used was a lateral anterior approach using a titanium prosthetic. The surgery was a success but I some had some issues with the surgeon and lack of communication in reference to returning to full duty firefighting. The lateral anterior approach is a somewhat out dated procedure, I was surprised it was all the big clinic in Cleveland had to offer. After three months of recovery including physical therapy I returned to full duty firefighting.
The rt. hip began to feel unstable and somewhat painful so I scheduled a consultation with a Dr. Pentz with Omni Orthopedics in Canton Ohio. I learned about Dr. Pentz from a friend who is an anesthesiologist. The visit was very promising and he seemed very competent and caring. He was confident that after replacing my rt. hip I could again return to firefighting and also return to limited marshal arts training. Dr. Pentz used a much more current approach called direct anterior. The surgery took half the time and the pain and recovery was unbelievably easier then the previous surgery performed on my left hip. I encourage anyone considering total hip replacement to find a surgeon who in skilled in direct anterior approach. I would also like to say you will not find a better surgeon and caring doctor as doctor Pentz. I have been back to Full duty for four months and feel great with no limitations so far. I also returned to Kenpo Karate training with some limitations. You can absolutely return to a full life following hip replacement.
I was 39 nearly 40 when I tore my labrum competing in a beach tournament diving to win a race. I was 40 and 10 months when I finally forced my husbands work in the middle east to do an mri arthogram to prove I had the tear by which point I had advanced osteoarthritis initiated by the tear. Maybe if I could have had the diagnosis sooner I could have had an arthroscopy and saved my hip joint but we will never know now. I could walk barely a mile without using my husband as a walking stick by the time of the op but like Wayne Sleep I could still run and pretty fast too. It just hurt like nothing else afterwards and while trying to sleep. Once I knew I had to have the op and the date was set, I went back to running to clear my head and try to get enough of that feeling of running to last me a lifetime. I was so terrified I would not be me as I knew me afterwards. This is a link to me racing 2 weeks or so before the op, I had just run a 400m dash and then jumped into the water to paddle the rest of the way , I am the one in the lead 🙂
I will email you anything you need for the article as I am determined to make my op something positive not just for me but for anyone who is facing it. I had dark days with it and good days- I do not make a good patient, but nothing compares to being handed back the sport you love.
Hi John, thank you so much for your comments. The more people who contribute, the more people will come to realise that having a THR is not the end of your active life but the beginning of a new PAIN FREE one. I haven’t received any negatve comments about the op apart from the type of surgery you have had.
Congratulations on returning to your job as a fire fighter, you guys do an amazing job.
I am due a total left hip replacement in the not too distant future. At least I know what to expect now and hopefully will get more specialised physio treatment post op. Regards Ali
Bob mann says
Thirtytwo years back in my misspent youth I broke the neck of the right femur riding horses professionally
I was told then I was a candidate for a hip replacement. It got worse over the years, able to jog ,learnt to ski at 59, but , I seemed to invest heavily with my money in Ibuprufen.
Had the hip done 5th dec 2012. Walking the day after without sticks( got bollocking two weeks later from physio)
Pain gradually eased f, no need fo any pain killers at all. Walking four miles at three weeks.
Hip still has bending restrictions, but I have been very lucky.
Roll on six months!
Awesome. I continue to be impressed by all the positive feedback. I forget I have a THR, and I lost only a little flexibility but all my pain. And I am still very flexible.Ali
Hi, I’m 46 & had my left hip replaced on the 19th of Feb. I have known for about 18 months that I had hip impingement, which meant I had stiffness & pain. It has been suggested that this might be related to shallow hip cups.
I was told to carry on with my life & use painkillers. I did. I continued to run 2 to 3 times a week & do all the other active stuff with my two boys. The last time I ran was October 2012 half-term, in Wensleydale. My hip failed just after that & by December I was only able to walk with a stick.
I have been told that this sudden deterioration is quite common. The first consultant I saw said that rather than suddenly failing they think maybe what happens is that whatever has been just holding a hip finally gives way.
I was told that I needed the operation doing asap. If I postponed it I was warned I would turn what was a routine hip replacement into a complex one because of the joint tissue I was now wearing out. I was in a lot of pain. From running about 8 miles a week I had gone to someone who struggled to limp to the car on a stick. It was pathetic.
I was very upset about the prospect of the operation & the thought that my body had failed me. I was (& still am) mourning the loss of my running. The surgeon who did the op. said he strongly recommended not wearing out the replacement by doing any high-impact sports in the future. Added to that my other hip is starting to wear already.
On Tuesday I will be 2 weeks post op. I’m still in a fair amount of pain, I have one leg & one uncooked Cumberland sausage (swelling is so bad) & a fair amount of brusing. I am taking a lot of painkillers & these are playing havoc with my stomach, taste & my ability to remain awake.
The pain I have now is quite different to that pre op. & my surgeon is confident that eventually I will be completely pain free.
I am still struggling to accept that at 46 after a life of keeping fit, doing sport, keeping my weight down, being careful about my diet I have come to this. I am angry my body has let me down. I am very angry when I see overweight people walking normally I only asked my hips to support about 8 stone & they couldn’t even manage that.
I feel prematurely aged. It’s an ‘old’ operation If one more health-care ‘professional’ in hospital told me I was ‘very young to be having this operation’ I would have hit them with my crutch. I hate the thought of having had a lump of my skeleton hacked away (I heard some of the noise during the operation…vommit). I hate the knowledge that I will have to have this one revised in the future & might have to have my other hip done. I regarded myself as a fit & well person who was independent & did not need medical help. I now know I have a future of operations.
I am where I am. It could be worse & medicine did have a solution, even if it is rather barbaric butchery. I am confident I will get back to some level of fitness though I have run my last run. Having been through this op I want to do all I can to avoid my other hip & put off the revision of my left for as long as possible.
I empathise for all of the pain expressed above, physical & emotional. I understand the anger & frustration & fear. I’ve been through the lot. I’m struggling forward. I’m not giving up. Power to all of you!!
Hi Helen, It’s early days yet. I felt just like that. It’s only 2 weeks since your op. I remember still having to lift my leg out of bed in the morning and the constant pain, but take heart the pain is your body healing itself. The surgery is butchery but my God it works. I haven’t had any negative responses to my website only positive. It’s difficult to be patient when all you want to do is be back where you were before. Just think where you would be if you were a lazy, overweight blob. You’re body would have let you down a long time ago. I was climbing again 5 weeks after my op, only gently, but just wanted to reawaken my muscles and begin to regain my flexibility. By 3 months I was back to my climbing peak though I was still timid about the prosthetic. Now I don’t even notice it except for a slight loss in flexibilty but I’m far more flexible than most people anyway.
You should be able to get back to running. You have to remember than Docs say a lot of things but its just advice and the best thing is to listen to your body. But take heed from me and I am NOT a runner – take it slow to start. I snapped my achilles playing tennis – I hadn’t played for 8 years. But I now cycle a lot to keep fit only to take the pressure of all my joints and to be honest I’ve never enjoyed the pursuit of running for the sake of it. If you want to chat any time, contact me on 07814555378. And stay positive. You will get there, just don’t do anything in the first 6 weeks that may compromise your prosthetic and then ……. Keep in touch Helen and I wish you well on your journey. This is the beginning of a new lease of life. Enjoy. x
I am genuinely touched by your response. I’ve never added to any kind of website like this before but, saying that, I have never had a hip replacement before either!
Im 3 weeks post-op now & Im feeling better. I know I’m feeling better because I’m starting to get a bit stir-crazy….even to the point of finding my way around Facebook…arggggh!?!
I probably didn’t make myself clear. It’s not that I cant run after recovery rather that the surgeon strongly recommended I not in order to save the other hip & make the prosthetic last as long as possible. Given what I have been through with this & all of the time & effort my friends & family have had to put in to care for me & my boys I couldnt let myself do anything that would hasten another op.
The reason I found my way onto this website was because me & my boys have had a bit of a flirt with rock climbing & certainly my youngest & I enjoyed it. I wondered if was something that would be regarded as low impact for me to think about persuing in the future. I haven’t had the definitive conversation with the surgeon as to what’s in & out for the future….thought I’d leave that tick-list for my next appointment!
Talking of appointments, I saw my surgeon last week & he is very happy that everything is going well. As a bit of warning to any of you, try not to be too shocked by your x-ray the first time you see it with your new internal ‘kit’….I found it a bit of a shocker. The cup looks huge, & mine has 2 screws sticking out of the top like a couple of antennae on a bug’s head. The shaft down through the femur looks like it only stops short of my knee….maybe my scared eyes exagerrated. Anyway, try not be be scared when you get your first glimpse.
My suture is out now too & the scar looks ‘neat’, as everyone keeps telling me…like anyone is going to say ‘oh my gawd, that’s one hell of an ugly, red gap’ !!!
…to get back to your response, yes you are right about the first six weeks. That was emphasised to me again by the doc. Mine is un-cemented too (hence the screws), which makes it even easier for me to dislocate.
I am trying to organise my head to think of other ways to stay fit. My problem was running ‘did’ it for me & was easy for me to fit in with my boys. Without any planning I could pull on my kit for a quick half-hour. I always carried my kit around just in case. Without (un paid) baby-sitting even going swimming has to be an orgainised & more expensive event. Plus I have to swim for a lot longer to get the same buzz & I dont like chlorine…& it ruins your hair !!! (such a girl!)…but those are all the easy negatives.
With those to one side I am now planning an hour & a half slot once a week when I can get to the pool, have a swim & get back to pickup again. It’s a start!
Yes, it’s good to hear stories like yours. I need to be told that this can work out well. I know I couldn’t continue as I was.
Thanks lots! I’ll keep whittering on this site in case anyone else stumbles across it at some ungodly hour when the painkillers have worn off :).
by the by did anyone ever give you an explanation as to why you developed the arthritis that led to your operation being necessary? I saw 2 consultants & neither could say for definite why or why so young. It seems to be a gap in the market of research.
oh, should have also said…this week’s bonus; my legs are the same length! whoo hooo!….small things make me happy these days…..hee hee
I am 4 weeks out of anterior approach THR. as a lifetime alpine/telemark ski racer and whitewater kayak instructor having my hip become so painful seemed like the end of my life until i had the surgery and the first thing I said when they took my to my room was that “it’s gone!” referring to the pain I’d had. I’ve been given the green light for skiing and shouldn’t have any problem getting into my boat by May. I’m glad i made some noise and got this done because if I’d just sat here in pain nobody would have ever come by insisting I have surgery. This is something you have to make up your own mind about doing and get the help to do it. I was able to put all my weight on new hip the same day, never had any hip pain and can now walk without a limp for the first time in many years. Hope you are doing well, John
Well done to you. It’s amazing how many people out there are reluctant to having this surgery and persevere with the pain. It is an amazing operation and I have only heard positive things. I am doing well. I don’t even think about my prosthetic hip and it certainly gave me my life back.
I’m just over 4 weeks post-op now & I am virtually pain-free. I certainly dont’ have any of the pain I had pre-op. I’ve cut down the pain-killers until I’m only taking the one combined with the anti-inflamatory. The surgeon told me not to stope those completely until I saw him again.
I think I’m coming to terms with it. Yes, this is only my problem I know. Everyone else is just pleased to be rid of the pain & be mobile. I’m getting there…my problem only!!
I’m glad you are doing well.
jc, how long after your anterior hip were you back to full duty ? My doctor made a comment before surgery that I may be good at 6 weeks . I am 2 weeks today since surgery and feel great , but I am a little worn out at the end of some days. I am a 53 year old firefighter my hip feels better than it has for years. Doing lots of ice and recliner after activity . 2 aspirin a day per doctor as a thinner an some Tylenol . Had Tramadol for a few days after surgery and once I dumped that I felt better. Tom
It is inspiring to see so many stories of successes after THR surgery and the will and desire to NOT let it stop you, to not give in. I too offer a similar story. Had my first THR in 2010, then second one a year later – so I am totally mechanical now, lol. I am 49yrs old, a big shock when I was told in 2000 that I will need hip replacement in 10yrs – I had no pain and was in denial. In 2005, I began to accept the Dr. was right and I waited and researched and shopped around for four years to find right doctor. This was SO valuable. My Dr. sat with me for 1hr in our first consult, listened to who I was, what I wanted, where I wanted to be. Picking a procedure and Dr. so important, I had the anterior approach, ceramic on ceramic. First one very hard recovery, took 6 wks to get off walking sticks. Pool Therapy definitely helped get me off walking sticks and good for my mental frame of mind. Second one much easier, walking without sticks after less than 1 week. My goal, full pack hiking and mountaineering at high altitudes over long period of time (7-14 days trekking). I’m still working at getting to that level. Do lot’s of cardio training, and weighted lunges in gym with extra 65lbs of weights. Seems I’m pushing it too hard sometimes. I feel the pain in the hips from too much weight bearing, but I am off anti-inflamatorys forever, never took a pain pill, never took an anti-inflamatory since. One year on, been on 3-day 45 mile hike with 50lb pack up and down 3000ft mountains, with no problems with fake hips. I’m proud of that. Hiking is much easier with new hips, I suffered so many years. My doctor thinks I’m crazy and said I shouldn’t be doing so much. But I listen to my body, and my heart is huge and my mind so strong, which as we know helps so much in this process. Planning 10 day trek up to 20,000ft mountain, this is my end goal. This will make the statement that I won’t be held back, or I can persevere through the trauma of two THR and not let it hold me back from achieving my goal. Planning this next year. Wish me luck. Keep up the stories, it is truly an inspiration to hear.
Graham Rowley says
Well, what can I say! Thank you for a great blog, just lying here reading about to go home less than 72 hours after a left THR, I was only 50 less than 2 weeks ago, I’m not the fittest guy but I’m in fair shape, never been slight, more a rugby body! I am told I have very hard bones and my consultant Mr Lim (very apt) had to work hard, both legs are the same length now which is great, I have had an uncemented implant with ceramic on polymer, I am surprised but they have told me I can fully weight bear on this from the off! After reading all of the comments I am now looking forward to raising my fitness levels and hopefully getting back on my horse, hope the shock doesn’t finish him off! This is a great inspirational thread, welll done to all of you, regards, Graham.
Hi Helen, you’re doing brilliantly. I don’t know how old your boys are but cycling is a great activity and very low impact on all the joints – you could do it together. Climbing is also low impact on the hips, although I do get into some very strange positions and my prosthetic hip sometimes feels like it’s about to dislocate! I don’t think mine will last very long but I’m not too worried – you have to live life to the full and you never know what is just around the corner.
As regards the mantra ‘you’re very young to have a THR’ – I think it’s rbbish. It is not an old persons operation any more. Old people have the op when they are on their last legs – no pun intended – and often don’t fully recover from the op as it is left too late. We fit people who need a THR – it could be genetic, overuse – let’s face it ordinary people don’t do that much exercise and when we were physically very fit – when we had to hunt and walk for miles, we died in our 30’s! Mine was caused by dysplasia – and if I hadn’t been fit and light my whole life it would have dislocated many times over. We fight to have a THR so that we can recover quickly and get on with what we enjoy doing without losing fitness or time.
We are the lucky ones who have the discipline to eat healthy and stay fit. We have an amazing quality of life, can physically do anything we want and when we do have to have surgery we recover far more easily. Those overweight, lazy people have no quality of life, will probably die from Heart Disease or Diabetes and can’t even manage a set of sairs without getting breathless.
Going back to the ‘Why’ it could be linked to childbirth in women – just a thought.
Keep up the good work Helen and keep in touch. Ali
Well done John, it’s incredible isn’t it, to go from such despair and pain to a new lease of life. It’s certainly one of the best things I’ve ever done and it seems to have given my left hip a reprieve as the right hip is back up to scratch. Are you back kayaking yet? Ali
Wow Gary, fair play to you. I hate carrying heavy packs at the best of times – probably because I do it all the time carrying my climbing pack and ropes, but you seem to relish it. You can be my sherper any time. Which Mountain are you trekking up. I was in Morocco at the end of March which was one of the best rock climbing trips I’ve ever been on. All the routes were big – 60m pitches, 4 – 6 pitches. The biggest route was Sungold 1,000 feet long and all hard climbing and quite run out. Exhausting but exhilerating.
My Doctor also thinks I’m crazy, but he also thinks I’m fantastic and I think one of his favourite patients because I’m always so determined and positive.
You’re inspirational Gary. Thanks for your input. Ali
Thanks for your positive story Graham. Hope your horse enjoys having you back. It’s an awesome and life changing operation and I continue to be inspired by peoples determination and self belief. Ali
Just my 2 1/2 cents on THR. I’ve been an athlete since forever. Baseball, recruited to play college football and played tennis professionally. I’m over 60 and still able to be an effective hitting partner for a nationally ranked 16 yr old female. My hip was replaced in 2004 and all I can say is “I thoroughly recommend it !!”. I can honestly say, like the person in this article, I’ve forgotten I had the surgery (I must also say that what she did to cause her Achilles rupture was ridiculous). Anyway if you are going to get a THR find the right surgeon (somebody who has done at least 500), use the right materials (some materials shed more molecules during use than others…which will cause your prosthesis to loosen…which is BAD) and if you are interested in staying active find a “Sports” orthopedic to do the operation. You want to be able to run around later not just be able to walk to the bathroom. Good Luck…oh yea, go for the small incision…less cutting of muscles, shorter healing time.
I just saw your article about your THR and climbing and I wanted to ask for a bit of information.
I am 35 yeas old and since I was in my mid twenties I sometimes felt pain in one of my hips a few times a year while sleeping. I always thought it was because of the change in weather and didn’t pay much attention to it. I have never been very flexible (well I was quite flexible in my teens but not after) and my friends always teased me about needing to do a bit more stretching exercises and yoga. I got in to that but sitting with my legs crossed was a nightmare and I started to get more pain in my hips (right side worst that left side).
Last summer (2012) I went back to my hometown in Spain and I had a check up. The doctor said that there was a problem with my hips and that I should stop doing any impact sport and maybe start thinking in not doing any long walks, thing that is one of my favorite activities.
Following the visit of the doctor in Spain I asked for an appointment with my GP and was referred to a hip specialist in the UCLH (London).
The specialist checked my hip movement and following some X-rays he confirmed that I have a severe protrusio type abnormality of both my hips. I have a negative sourcil angle on both sides and the centre edge angle is above 60 degrees. Apart from that I have a very varus neck shaft angle that measures about 118 degrees and significant peripheral osteophytes.
The doctor diagnosis was that my hip is not suitable for any conservative surgery and the only solution is a hip replacement of both of my hips or of the right one to start with as is the one that is giving more trouble at the moment.
After all the explanation above my problem is to be able to quantify the level of pain that I should consider tolerable before having the hip replacement and how my physical activities will be affected.
I love walking (20km on a day or even more if required), I started climbing a year and a half ago and I really enjoy it even if restricted by my hip movement, and I would like to carry on swimming.
I am on cocodamol and iboprufen at the moment, I usually take cocodamol at nights as my hip seems to bother me more and more each night and keeps waking me up trough the night and iboprufen during the day. I can walk but I get tired if standing around and if I have been walking or climbing one day the following day I have to take it easy. I usually feel like if something is being stabbed in my femur every time I stand up after being in a seating position, is like if my leg needs to adjust to the stabbing feeling before start walking. but I wouldn’t say the pain is so bad that I can’t walk. doing my shoe laces and cutting my toe nails is getting a bit more challenging as well. So there I am without knowing when is the right moment to say, yes I’ll have a hip replacement.
I am worried about having to stop climbing, doing long walks and swimming after having a hip replacement.
How much hip movement did you get back after the operation and physiotherapy? what about pain after all the process? from my point of view I am always aware that there is a bit of unconformable feeling in my femur, will that go away?
Another of my worrying is that if with a hip replacement I will only get back the amount of movement that I have at the time of the surgery or a bit more movement (the soft tissue supporting the hip is not used to big opening and twisting movements anymore) waiting for too long to have the operation might mean that I won’t be able to get much flexibility or movement back if my hip movement gets reduced more and more with the time.
Well, it might be that all text above doesn’t make much sense but I suppose that I need a bit of advice from someone else that has been through the same and gather information to be able to make a decision.
thanks in advance.
angela field says
I feel better now I have read your blog. I have been holding out for hip replacements through fear for 10 years. 3 years ago I had an austoplasty done on my left hip and that helped a great deal giving me movement back again, like simple things putting socks on and walking and gardening. We always spent out holidays on walking holidays not backpacking but places like napel (Annapurna circuit), peru , mainland greece etc etc . I have not slept at night without codine for many years. Odd week off but rare. p,us diclaphenic if that did not work. Side effect terrible constipation, now need laxitives and drugs eaten away my bowel . My hands now forced and I have agreed tto go ahead and have first hip replaced I am 53. I am very very scared not of op but what after your blog has so helped me feel life will be good again and without pain and with movement. I can only walk with aid of trekking poles but still do upto 11 miles on edium ground cannot cope with rough ground hip givesway. Thank you again for giving me very positive hope in this daunting time. I now k ow I am doing right going back to gym to make muscles as strong as possible before op.
Hi Angela, I hope all goes well. Do you have a date yet for your operation? If there is anything I can help you with just let me know. My personal email: email@example.com or phone 07814555378. Ali
Your stories really are inspirational!. Im a physio in Swansea working with elective hip and knee replacement patients.
As a climber too, I really interested in how you guys have rehabed yourselves. Thank you for your stories.
Simon, if you get this message, please get in touch as I’d like to be helpful for your research.
Keep up the good work and enjoy life everyone.
Nigel Davidson says
I am a 52 Year old male who had Hip REplacement operation on 16 May 2013. Surgeon also rectified a 2cm difference in leg length during operation and havent looked back.
Quality of life has improved dramatically and 6 weeks after surgery went on a cheap cruise climbed the 320 stairs at the Bassilica in Rome and following day climbed to the top of Mount Vesuvius on steep sandy paths(not mountaineering by any means) plus walked mile around key tourist spots.
Strenghth in legs now at pre op levels static pressing and leg-pressing 880lbs in controlled environment with trainer. Building up aerobic exercise with swimming and cross trainer and light cycling.
Havent done any jogging or any impact sports due to surgeon saying it will reduce the life of the Hip Replacement from expected life of 70 years. Tempted though as if I am going to need another Hip replacement in 20 years I might as well burn this one out when I am still relatively young.!
Those hesitating about having the operation don’t. I was forced to wait 2 years due to recovering from Septiceamia as surgeons wouldnt operate because of infection risk and arguments I was too young to have operation. If you have a choice have the operation as it will dramatically improve the qulaity of your life
Brilliant Nigel, I only seem to hear positive comments about this operation. It is life changing. All this talk of being too young is just rubbish. It’s better to have it done whilst you are still fit and able to recover quickly than wait until your old and decrepid and you never really recover from the surgery. Well done to you. Ali
Hi Helen, how are you doing? I’ve just been reading through the comments and realised I hadn’t replied to you. I found out a year after my operation why I got the osteoarthritis – I had hip dysplasia. My surgeon had been looking at my xrays for 5 years and only spotted a year after surgery. He then told me he was surprised it had never dislocated considering what I do for a living. I replied it’s probably because of what I do that it never did – all that strength and flexibility in the legs and hip flexors.
It would be good though to find out why some people are more susceptable than others. Keep up the good work. Ali
Hi… I’ve been following this website for about a year now and it’s been the greatest source of encouragement while i’ve been plucking up courage to have this op…and watching my b.ody and climbing deteriorate. Can still climb some routes ok, but walking to and from the base of the climbs is a real hassle
That sounds very familiar. I have only had positive input from everyone who has contributed to the comments page. I wish you all the best. If you have the opportunity and/or the money to use a Sports Physio do it. Rehab on the NHS for athletes is pitiful.Ali
Thank you so much for this blog. I am less than 2 weeks post right THR – having spent almost a year getting diagnosis and treatment. Started off seeing an osteo for what I thought was a low back problem. He identified likely labrum tear and MRI confirmed this. I don’t have private medical insurance but paid for the scan and to see a consultant specialist. Total cost less than £400. My motive was to get the information and options as quickly as possible – so when I saw him on the NHS – having waited in turn – the initial thinking and investigations had been done – rather than turn up in clinic and then wait for up to 8 weeks for each investigation and then follow up appointment. He could see the tear but no evidence of arthritis – but suspected it was present. By this time I had stopped all sport and piled on a stone in weight. Unable to walk any distance or climb the stairs at a young 50 I had lost confidence in my previous fit existence of climbing cycling and hockey playing, with gym sessions too.
I was offered key hole arthroscopy – to try to repair the tear but also to see if damage was there that was not showing up on MRI, X-ray or CT scans. The repair didn’t happen but the surgeon pretty much skipped to my bed waving Polaroid shots of my damaged hip- for the first time now he had the evidence he needed to refer me on for hip replacement. He also referred me to the physios for post operative recuperation – and the exercises they gave me took me back to my own gym, determined to get fit for the THR. These hospital gym physios have been brilliant.
At this point I discovered that an NHS consultant to consultant referral puts you to the back of the queue and I faced another long wait to see a consultant in our patients- that is until I found out that you can call outpatients every day to see if there has been any cancellations – likely given the age of most patients. I got lucky and brought my appointment forward – saving 3 months wait for the op. This is a Top Tip – if you know anyone who has an appointment ages in the future – keep calling up for cancellations.
Post operative follow up can be light – and you can feel a bit like you are following instructions for an old person’s mobilisations. So here’s another Top Tip from my physio – see if you can get referred, after your op, from the ward physio to the outpatient physio department. I will be returning to the hip gym classes – full of younger people recovering from hip surgery. It’s great camaraderie too.
At the moment I appear to have leg length differences but am told this can be normal and may settle by 6 week check up. Frankly if all I need is a lift in my sport shoes it’s hardly a big issue.
All your stories have really inspired me – I am impatient by nature so am going to do exactly as the surgeon says for the next few weeks – then start pushing the boundaries – with regular check backs to this inspiring blog.
Thanks again Ali
clare rendle says
Your story has been really inspiring I had a condition where your hip comes out of joint it has a long name ha ha, I was left with pins in both hips it happened when I was 13 years old, im now 35 and for the last 5 years I have suffered with bad pain in my left hip and the doctor said they wont do anything until im older which to me doesnt make much sense as its effecting my life now. I worry about the damage codein and other pain killers is doing to my health I think I may go to the docs and ask to if they will send me to a hip specialist thanks for sharing your story.
Wow. Some good information there. Sorry for the late reply I have been extremely busy and probably wearing out my new hip in the process. Do keep in touch and let me know how you get on. I will reply quicker next time. Promise. Ali
Definitely. Badger your doctors and keep pushing for surgery. I don’t understand the NHS – they give the op to very old people who rarely recover well after surgery but are reluctant to do the op for younger people who are obviously going to benefit greatly from the op. Let me know how you get on. Kind regards Ali
Glad to see the blog is still going. I first wrote last year in April, and you replied in May. Thanks for replying to mine and everyone else, it means a lot.
Well, it was a dream of mine to climb a 20,000ft peak after two THR, and I indicated last year I wanted to do it. The tickets are booked for Ladakh in June. I will be doing a huge, very grueling trek Lamayuru to Chilling to Stok Kangri (6152meters or 20,300ft), over 15 days of nasty 3000ft accents/descents prior to the final accent of stok kangri. We will be in full snow, crampons, ropes, ice axes, the whole nine yards. Hips are feeling very good after 2 years post-op. I am with a personal trainer twice a week working on strength training, massive core strength and hip and leg strength training. I have to admit, I am very nervous though. I have done lots of trekking, and some to high altitudes but never anything this extensive or this high. Why did I pick the hardest thing I have ever done, post 50yrs old and with 2 THR? Am I crazy?
I will report back after I return in July to let you know how it goes. Wish me luck. Thanks again for all your support and hope all is well with you.
Wow, that’s fantastic. Very inspirational even without a double hip replacement. No I don’t think you’re crazy I think you have been given your life back and you want to live it to the full. Yes definitely keep me posted. All good with me. I have been very busy and neglected my website of late. Kind regards Ali
Hi, What a brilliant site! These people are amazing and their stories are inspiring. I am 56 and for many years I felt a click in my left hip when doing leg raises at the point when I lowered my legs and they were almost at the floor. Later I noticed a restriction in my left hip when stretching. A few years back I was having pain when walking which lasted a few days and then went away for a few weeks and then returned and so on. Then last year running became very tough, my times got slower and I felt sore. I didn’t realise for a while that my stride when leading with my good hip was short and I was really stretching it, which was sore. I went to see a consultant and has an xray. He said I have osteo-athritis in the hip ( I also have in my elbos) and a hip replacement would be required at some point. That was 4 months ago. I am sore all the time and can relate to they issue with putting on sock, cutting toenails and getting in and out of the car. I train with weights and cycle and stretch every day. I only stopped squats and lunges a month ago. I initially though I might as well blast it until I need an op, but then realised I need the bone to be in good shape for the op so I stopped running, squats and lunges, but keep everything else going 6 days a week. I love training and hill walking, but didn’t go out all last year. I don’t know whether to go back to the consultant now and see if I am closer to needing the op. I must admit I’m a bit scared. I’m worried about all the variable, cement/no cement, ceramic/titanium, experienced surgeon… Not sure what I am asking here, but feels good to get this off my chest. I’ll say again, you and the rest of the people on this forum are amazing have educated me about my choices. Sorry for the very long message. Thank you George
I have now had both hips done, and just 50yrs old, THR, ceramic on ceramic, anterior approach. I highly recommend this. I think the main thing is to shop around and find the right person to do this. I went to a few people, didn’t like how I was treated as a number or a case, not a person, or how they would suggest only the technique they wanted to perform. When I found the right surgeon, I knew immediately. He sat for 1hr with me and just chatted about me, what I wanted, what I did for a living, my activities, what I hoped to do afterwards. He is actually a friend of mine now. This is so important – don’t rush into it.
All the symptoms you describe, I also had the same. When it’s time, you will know. For me, I hated that I couldn’t get through the day without lots of anti-inflamatories. When I went hiking, I suffered on the simplest hikes. I knew it was time when I couldn’t even tie my own shoes. I had stopped lunges years beforehand. Good news is, now with two new hips, I can do lunges better than ever (35lbs in each hand 3 X 12 each side, no problem). I can’t remember when I could do that. Hiking over many days, 60lb pack up and down 1000ft pitches, no problem, no pain. There is good news. Keep positive, not let anything hold you back, and very important, be patient with recovery. First hip, I struggled so much with recovery (6 weeks on walking sticks). Second hip, no issues, off walking sticks after one week. Good luck to you, sounds like you will pull through.
Hi Gary, You’ve no idea how much better I feel after reading your post above. Doing lunges with weights, hiking with 60lb pack, just brilliant! I too am getting fed up popping 50 ml diclophenac and the agony of trying to get a sock on, I am wearing slip-ons all the time now, but your account of your recovery has given me hope that I can get that level of recovery too. I’m also concerned about getting the wrong consultant or one who does not share my hopes for a recovery that enables me to get back into my activities and I’m not sure how I would go about dropping him for another consultant, but I’ll work that one out. Do you have any concerns about bending down to pick up your weight? Any concerns of dislocation? I’ve been trying to put it off, by keeping stretching at the gym and trying strengthen the leg and hip muscles, but I think it’s getting near the time to go back to the / a consultant and get the ball rolling and when I do I will use your story for inspiration Gary. Thanks a million for responding. George
Hi Gary, I just looked back at you earlier posts. I can’t wait to hear how your 10 day mountain trek goes, but I can tell already you have the power and enthusiasm to do it. After having done my research on THR, I would be happy to go for the same procedure as you, but how did you go about searching for the right consultant? All the best George.
Hi George, Happy to hear your response. For my doctor, I think I just got lucky. The first two I went to, I knew when I walked out they were not the ones for me, they just seemed to talk past me, like I wasn’t there, reciting what they wanted to do first without finding out about me. Doctors are like that, they have a procedure they are best at, and for some, that’s fine. But one size does not fit all. I didn’t even know about the anterior approach until I met my current doctor, and when he described it to me, I thought that was exactly what I wanted. I asked about hip resurfacing, he said he doesn’t do it anymore, they don’t last, and he had to go back to do THR and that is worse. I asked why the other doctors (operating out of the same hospital) didn’t do that, and he simply said, training, they don’t have it, nor the 100s of procedures doing that technique. My doctor (here in Sydney) happened to be trained at Harvard, so I was lucky. I think if you find a procedure, you can probably find someone that specializes in that procedure, and make sure they have hundreds of operations using that one. Remember, you don’t get a second chance, nor do you want to have to go back in to fix a bad job, so it’s your call, not theirs. I think if you want to leave a consultant, they should have not problem.
Regarding weights, I slowly worked my way back. You have to be patient. You will know what you can and cannot do. I learned I had to be patient for the first 6 months. I swear after 3 weeks with my first op, I couldn’t even lift my leg off the ground – I was so broken, so frustrated. Don’t read stories on Youtube of recovery, it only frustrated me more to hear how others recovered quickly, why wasn’t I, was something wrong? You just have to be patient. Swimming and pool work helped so much in strength training before going into the gym – I highly recommend walking in waist high water, water squats, stretching in water, etc. I also never took any pain relieve after surgery, no morphine, no codeine only ibuprofen, but that is personal preference. I wanted to be in tune with my body, even if it meant pain.
With the anterior approach and ceramic on ceramic (no screws, no glue), there is hardly any risk of dislocation, unlike titanium and posterior approaches where there is big risk.
Yes, I’m getting ready in 8 weeks to go on trek. It’s 15 days, extremely strenuous up and down 3000ft per day, culminating in an attempt on stok kangri summit (over 20,000ft). This will be by far the most difficult trek I have ever attempted. I’m doing it because I love high altitude trekking/climbing, and that we can’t be held back by THR (not even two of them 🙂 ). I’m not at all worried about my hips, not in the least. Let me know how you go with your surgery. All the best mate.
Great advice Gary. I’m taking all of it on board and I’m going to take it all in with me when I go to see a consultant. 2 summers ago I did 7 munros (mountains over 3000 ft) in the Cairngorms over 2 days sleeping overnight in my tent. This is what I love doing and my aim is to get back to that. I am planning an easy backpacking weekend next month to see how I feel. I know it will be sore, but I need to get among the hills. I’ll watch out for your progress report on your trek and I will let you know how things go with my hip. Incidentally, my son is likely to be moving out to Sydney to work for the Sydney branch of his company Howden. All the best for now Gary. George
Momin hossain says
This site is very beautiful so i like it and post my comments.
Hip replacement surgery has been in practice for a considerable period of time. For sixty years hip joint surgery has been utilized to help people to walk again when injury or degradation of the body has occurred. Hundreds of thousands of individuals are mobile and taking care of themselves because of this ground breaking procedure. Now there is anterior approach hip joint replacement surgery that is a better way than the conventional hip joint surgeries that have been being conducted for so long.
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Maria Poveda says
This is Maria.
I got in touch with you nearly a year ago about my hips and climbing after surgery.
Just to let you know that in the end after quite a lot of pain on the 8th may I had a THR on my right hip. I manage to arrange everything through the NHS and the surgery took place in Valencia (Spain), my home town.
They did a post lateral procedure. The pain in the femur has disappeared and now I am working on recovering the strength of soft tissue but have managed to go up and down the stairs and starting to use crutches!
Trying to recover and get strong at the moment.
If everything goes according to plan I will have a THR on my left hip by the end of the year!
Hi Maria, that is good news. I hope you continue to improve and your operation is a success. Good luck with the next operation. Keep me posted. Kind regards Ali
I posted on this site May last year when I was struggling to come to terms with having to have a THR on my right hip, and worrying that I’d never climb again, hearing all sorts of stories about having to be SOOOOO careful all the time….and this blog was such an inspiration through all of that. So now that it’s all over here’s what happened:
I’m 56, and a keen climber, bushwalker, cyclist…anything to be outside and active. Like so many of you I had the slow years of increasing pain, and the inconvenience that I’m also totally allergic to all the anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS = instant severe asthma for me). Anyway, the first surgeon didn’t want to touch me – I asked too many questions and he thought I’d be “non-compliant”. He said I could expect to WALK after the op. The second surgeon said, “So you want to climb after your op? Do you lead? What grades? This will have implications for what type of prosthesis we choose….” and I knew I had the right person for me. 11th Feb this year I got my brand new ceramic/ceramic hip. The surgeon did an anterior approach, so my scar is only about 8cm long. Recovery was remarkably quick – I was walking without crutches within a week, and given the go-ahead to ride my bike and drive after 2 weeks. I took 5 weeks off work, did physio like it was a full-time job, and built up longer walking/riding/stair climbing slowly and steadily. I could probably have returned to work sooner, but I did find myself getting tired…I had to learn to pace myself a bit even though I was feeling really good. I went back to gym climbing after 6 weeks, cautiously at first and then with increasing confidence. I’m now cycling 15-20km a day commuting to work, bushwalking and climbing regularly – not quite at my old grades, but loving it – and just so grateful that I can enjoy everything again without any pain at all. I hope my story will encourage someone as much as the stories above encouraged me!
Daniel Craig Johnson says
After a scuba diving incident, that cost my dive buddy his life, I had a vascular necrosis on both hip heads, resulted out of my emergency ascent with my dying buddy and the oxygen blockage I’ve formed during this attempt.
I had my hip replacement in May 2014.
Left hospital after 4 days
Never went to any Physio
Lived at home for the entire recovery on my own
as my wife left me 3 weeks before my OP
Day 5 walking with one crutch making my own food washing etc.
Day 8 Posting my first Salsa dancing Video on FB
Day 12 Back to gym doing upper body exercise
Day 13 driving my car
Day 14 Back to work
After 5 weeks Body back in great shape
After 2 month fully recovered no pain
I can only say one thing its all in your head!!
Good luck to all that have their THR coming, nothing to worry about and don’t delay, just do it!!
Best wishes Daniel
Wow. That is one hell of recovery. Well done to you. Did you have both hips replaced? Inspirational. CAli
Hi Lynne, where do you liv?. That’s fantastic. I am so happy for you. I have been told by my surgeon that the anterior approach isn’t the most effective form of THR and yet your story and others like it say the opposite. I can’t believe how quickly you have recovered. Well done to you. Kind regards Ali
hie Ali, thanks for the blog after reading this blog and the comments, I think I am ready for the surgery. Was diagnosed of degeneration borne disease, was told will be replaced when I was older. Now the pain is unbearable and am still 25, i hope they will allow me this time.
Hi Ali, thanks for your reply! I’m in Melbourne, Australia. I know here I had to look quite hard for a surgeon who does the anterior approach, and he said most surgeons still don’t do it because firstly, it’s quite modern – if you didn’t train in the last 10 years you wouldn’t have been taught that way, and secondly, it needs you to have a specialised expensive operating table which most surgeons wouldn’t have unless they chose to specialise in that procedure. I get the impression that long-term recovery is much the same whichever way you have it done, but short term the anterior approach gives a much easier recovery. And my scar is only about 7 cm long…. I’ve just managed to climb an Australian 20 indoors – I think that’s a 5b in UK grades – so I’m slowly getting back to about where I used to be. We’re just coming out of a long wet winter so I’ll be outdoors more regularly now and it’ll be interesting to see how I go. Looking forward to it however it turns out – just very glad to be there! Thanks for all your support!
Hi all. I first wrote back in April 2013 on my progress with double THR, anterior approach, and my goals to work to get back to mountaineering. Well, I’m proud to report back that I achieved my goal and then some. My goal with to be able to go mountaineering in Tibet/India, and climb a peak over 20,000ft. On June 17th I flew to Delhi, then on to Leh in northern India. I began a 13-day trek, which took me over five 5000m passes (16500ft), over 156km, and eventually I summited the Stok Kangri peak at 20,500ft (6150m), using ropes, harness, ice ax, crampons in heavy snow. Peak took 10hrs to summit from base camp of 5000m. Came down from mountain feeling stronger than I have in 15+ years. Passed by 21yr fit athlete male complaining of hip pain who had to return without summiting. Felt very good at 51yrs old and two THR that I could do this. Shows that if you put in the work, have a great outlook, and never give up, that THR cannot stop you from achieving what you set your mind to do. All the best to everyone going through surgery and recovery – keep positive
Hi Lynne, that’s fantastic. I will look into the anterior approach. I did mention it at my last check up but no-one seemed to know about it. It does sound amazing though. Keep me up to date. I find everyone’s stories absolutely fascinating. It’s amazing what the human body and spirit is capable of. Ali
Monster climbs im lucky to get to the end of my bed its takin the mickey doing all that climbing after hip its a wonder you havent fractured the bone around the joint it is not a easy ride thus op unless you have all had decent surgeons ! Ive had 1 resurfacing and 1 normal hip replacement and both have been a disaster I would not recommend to anyone I wish ud carried on taking lots of painkillers id of rather done this tobwhat I have now !
Hi Linda, sorry to hear things haven’t gone well for you. You must be very disappointed. You are the first person who hashadanything negative to say in all the comments posted so far. Could you tell me a little more about what activities you do and what level of fitness you aretrying to get back to. Regards Ali
Lee Dewhurst says
Thank you so much for writting this post, I used to be a climber I travelled round Europe climbing with my dad until I had my left hip replaced when I was 21, I’m 24 now and have been pretty much inactive since, I’ve been so scared of damaging it and having to go through all that pain again but your post has filled me with a bit more confidence, I guess you’ve got to get passed the fact that you know it’s not yours but it can be as goodas you’ve just got to get that mental confidence back as you said.
Hi Lee, you are very young to have your hip replaced. What is your story? You never know what direction life will take you. Live life to the full Lee and enjoy your new pain free hip. My left one is beginning to ache now the cold weather is here and I know an operation is due in the near future but I will keep active until the last minute and perhaps go for the anterior approach. I may search out a different surgeon, but I’m not scared of the op or the pain afterwards. It’s worth it to get your life back. I was careful for the first few weeks but I think my surgeon would have kittens if he saw what my new hip can do – actually it’s 4 years old – so a toddler!!
I would love to hear from you again to see how you’re getting on. Ali
Nam Le says
Hi guys I’m 23 and just had my a right THR; this was done as a result of me developing avascular necrosis. Prior to the surgery, I lived a very active lifestyle and was very much an avid climber (top roping, bouldering) and yoga practitioner. The surgeon used the posterior approach and at just 6 weeks, I’m walking about smoothly.
I’m here to ask if anyone has ever returned to climbing/yoga following a POSTERIOR hip replacement. From the picture, it looks as though the original poster had the anterior surgical approach performed. I know that between the two, the posterior approach yields many more restrictions (and a higher dislocation change) than the anterior does. Does having received the posterior approach mean that–regardless of how much i work to strengthen my leg/hip muscles–I’ll forever been restricted and followed by the threat of possible hip dislocation? My understanding is that the risk of dislocation exists as a result of the weakened muscles being unable to hip the hip joint in place.
Hi, thanks for your comment. As far as I am aware mine was a posterior approach. To be honest I have never felt any restrictions, and as I was climbing until the day before the operation all the muscles, ligaments etc. were in good shape and at 5 weeks post op I started doing a bit of bouldering.
I have certainly never worried about dislocation as I was desperate to get back to full fitness. I listen to my body. There are occasions when I get into unusual positions in climbing/yoga or pilates but I just change position. I have lost about 5% flexibility but if I were you AND I@M NOT YOU- I would just enjoy my new hip and stop worrying. It is more likely that it will be stronger and less likely to dislocate if you exercise than if you don’t – but then I’m an athlete and not a Doctor or Surgeon and they always tend to err on the side of caution. I hope that helps. Ali as in MONSTER
Anthony Jordan says
Hi, I’ve had both of my hips replaced in the last 2 1/2 years. I’m having a bit of trouble with my employment right now(Michelin Tire). I was put into a new job that required me to be on my feet for 12 hour shifts and I found that a few months into it I was hurting. in both hips and the pain was also going down my leg.
I’m trying to convince the company to take it easy on me and place me into something that’s not going to shorten the life of my new hips. I am currently off work right now recovering fro)m right knee arthroscopy (that was very painful!)
Cheers! Tony 🙂
Hi, been told that I need hip replacement, was a massive body blow as was expecting the doctor to say we can treat with an injection and therapy or at the most a minimal surgical procedure. My background is martial arts for the last 30 years (I’m 44 now) England International competitor and Karate Instructor as well as fitness instructor. My advice from the doctor was no more karate or boxercise and to take up swimming and the static bike. Not the words I wanted to hear.
I’m looking to hear from anyone who can advise me on what to do leading up to the operation and what I can expect post op with regards to competing and training again. especially anyone in the Watford area.
I’m particularly worried about flexibility, dislocations etc….
this blog has been very inspirational in keeping me positive, thanks…Nelson
Hi Tony, sorry for the late reply. Since I’ve had the right hip done I try to avoid carrying or lifting any heavy loads, so when I go climbing I often off load to other people. Unless your company can put you on a different job I would suggest you change jobs especially as it is causing you pain. You could also try strength building exercises recommended by a physio. Hope that helps. Ali
Hi Nelson, it’s not the end of your career or your life. I kept climbing until the night before my operation. If your karate involves physical contact it might not be the best thing coming up to your op but I don’t see why you can’t go through the movements – shadow karate type of thing. Swimming is good but I find it boring – it was great though when I was recovering from a prolapsed disc. Doctors tend to err on the side of caution. Listen to your body, how does it feel? Anything that is uncomfortable or feels like something is going to give – don’t do it. Being a fitness instructor I’m sure you will be able to differentiate between muscular pain and joint damage. Good luck. Ali
Hey Ali, I see there’s been no activity for awhile on this site but thought I’d give it a shot just in case someone out there is still “listening” 🙂 Like most of the posters here I’m blown away by the stories here … soooo inspiring when one is unsure and fearful of the unknown. I thank you for setting this up.
I’m a 51 y/o Personal trainer and have had surgery before as I had double knee surgery (patella tendon ruptures) about six years ago and recovery was very slow. (my understanding it that soft tissue trauma is much more difficult to recover from) Being both knees at the same time made it that much more debilitating. Took about three years to fully recover from that so I’m hoping that this will be a breeze. 🙂
I’m due for a THR on my left hip in a couple of weeks and my question is simple … have you (or anyone on the site) been able to do DEEP squats after having posterior THR? I don’t mean within that six week post op period … I mean at ANY time after fully “recovered” from the op. (and if so how long after?)
Like most on here my fears/concerns are not about the actual procedure but the post op lifestyle changes. My primary concern is that of dislocation … I don’t necessarily need to do deep squats with any substantial weights but as a trainer I am required to demonstrate the exercises! At the very least I’d like to be able to continue getting down on the ground to play with my kids (I have two young girls … two and five years old) and that definitely involves bending at the hip more than 90 degrees! 🙂
Hi Colin, I am 57 and had a left BHR (Birmingham Hip Resurfacing) 9 weeks ago. My recovery is going well and I am now able to bend the hip less than 90 degress, although not while squatting or leg pressing, but I expect to get there sometime during the next 10 months. I had BHR rather than THR as I am relatively young, my femor is strong and I intend to get back to mountain biking hill climbing, full gym work and hopefully running. I am back in the gym now doing what I can which is pretty much everything except squats, lunges and running. I am doing partial light leg presses and will increase the weight and range as things progress. I just wondered, with you even being younger than me and being a trainer, was BHR considered or was THR considered the best option? Either way I believe you can get back to low squats if you take it easy with your recovery, but be regimented. Don’t overdo it, but do what you can safely do EVERY DAY! This is only my humble opinion from my short experience so far. Do your research, eg talk to the surgeon and ask all the questions that are relevant to what you want to achieve from the op.
I’d be really interested to hear how the op and your recovery goes Colin.
All the best George
Thanks for the response George, THR was my surgeon’s decision cause apparently my femur’s head is shot! 🙁 Anyway surgery is in a couple of days so will keep updates as to how I do in case anyone is interested.
Good luck with the op Colin…
I’ll be interested to hear how it goes.
Hi Colin, sorry I didn’t reply sooner. I have recently had a second THR – left this time and the recovery time was incredible. I don’t know if I was fitter or if my body recovered quicker having gone through it already 5 years ago. I had very little swelling, only local bruising at the site of the surgery and was pretty much off my crutches after 4 weeks. I had my op on the NHS at the Winfield – a private hospital in Gloucester and when I attended a pre op physio consultation was told it takes 2 people using brute force to get the titanium ball into the ceramic socket and that the chances of dislocation were slim. In fact they said it had only happened once to her knowledge and was caused by blunt trauma.
So do not worry about dislocation – I did the first time around and didn’t at all with my second – a bit like having children!!
As regards deep squats – no problem. The surgeons mention this 90 degree limit but in my experience and from research you pretty much end up where you started physically, so if you were fit and flexible before, you would be again as long as you took the advice of the physio and took it steady. I had 6 physio sessions with the Winfield – what a difference that made. Lynne was fantastic and catered to my needs as a climber and aerial gymnast.
I would say 3 months on I am fully recovered and back to normal with all my activities and am very happy. Let me know how you got on. Cheers.
Ali, and all your new friends here,
I’m inspired by all the stories and accounts. Thank you. I’m 53 and had my left THR last week. My surgeon (from Towson Orthopedic in Maryland) must be an *artist*. I was off the walker in 5 days; and I’m day 8 and have to frequently remember, and turn around to pibk up my cane; sometimes just leave it, to get around the house for basic stuff. I was in the driveway at day 3 doing an emergency brake pad replacement on my wife’s van, but didn’t even give it a second thought. I just scooted around on my good hip and rear end taking the tire off and getting in to the caliper and pads… Anyway I came here wondering (since it’s December) if I’d be able to risk climbing a tree 20′ in a deer stand to catch the end of hunting season. My worry is not so much the climb, since that’s pretty low impact, but the risk of falling a couple of feet into my harness (which wraps around and under the groin, like my rock climbing harnesses).
Ali, I see you got into some lead climbs. Have you had any falls? And how impactful have they been?
Hi Mark, if your harness feels comfortable, and you can sit and weight it – hang off something, you should be fine. I couldn’t wear my harness until it felt comfortable and I was more worried about hitting the floor and dislocating my hip!! I have had both done now and it’s amazing what I can do with it. Happy Christmas. Ali
I benefitted from reading about the experiences of posters here regarding their recovery after total hip replacement so I will try to give a bit back.
I am a 52 year old male and I weigh 300 lbs. Whilst overweight I am quite strong having lifted weights and wrestled for many years
Due to severe OA I had a total replacement of my right hip three weeks ago. The operation has been an outstanding success. I ditched my crutches two days ago and am able to walk pain free.
I am looking forward to realy upping my exercise intensity and duration to regain the fitness levels I had in my 30s.
The best advice I can give to anyone facing THR is to get your butt and quads as strong as possible. Two surgeons told me to lose weight. I was not able to do that and decided to compensate by getting stronger. I figured that being many time stronger than the average THR recipient would compensate for my weight and it did.
Well done Craig. You took control of your situation in your own way. I hope your recovery continues. Ali
Spencer Priestley says
I’ve been told that I’ve got no cartilage at the edges of both hips and whilst a hip replacement will be needed it’s not yet. As a 45 year old I want to prolong this as long as possible as I’ve also just started my dream job as a recruit instructor in the fire service and want to continue with this for a few years before going back into a fire station.
I only do low impact training now such as cycling, walking, rowing and weight training.
Any tips in prolonging the inevitable as long as possible that have worked for others?
My main advice would be to keep active, which is what you seem to be doing. Low impact activities like cycling, rowing and walking are good, but don’t forget swimming as that is the best activity for an overall body workout whilst the body’s weight is taken by the water. Make sure your weights stay light and keep your Body Composition low so you are not carrying any extra weight.
Hip replacements don’t mean the end of your active career – I climb, swim, cycle, pole dance, scramble and do Pilates but do it without any pain any more.
Do you have any pain? Ali
Yes getting quite a lot of pain and not been as regular in the gym this last year so need to lose at least a stone and a half.
On my feet for quite a lot during the day st moment so it’s taking it toll.
My right hip was fine till I reached nearly 69 but that last year has been a real bugger. Thank you so much, you’ve given me real hope that I can go back to my bad old ways. Looking back to last year I still managed to do a 7km mud run (like a short Tough Mudder) at my daughters wedding last May (the wedding guests were asked to do it as part of the wedding day!).
I’m down for THR in three weeks (if it’s not postponed, which is a real issue now here in the UK). Even now I’m still going to the gym twice weekly but really struggle to do a 2mile hike every day even though I’d been doing 25km/day hikes and wild camping a year before that. So, it’s great to know there’ll be many more years of active sport for me even though I’ve reached my biblical 3 score and ten. Many, many thanks.
I’m so happy I found this blog! I’m 28 years old and a very active person. My whole life centers around climbing and outdoor sports.
One year ago I went on a ski-tour and hurt my hip. It took a whole year of MRI-scans and X-Rays to find out what the problem was. The doctors thought I had an impingement which could be operated on quite easily.
My operation date was December, 20th, 2018 (one year after my injury), but what the doctors found during the arthoscopic operation was that the major problem was my labrum which was completely wrecked and I had quite an infection in the joint. The cause of the problem is hip dysplasia which obviously was not diagnosed when I was an infant and is now causing me problems.
I have to be on crutches for 6 weeks and the doctors tell me that I will need 6 months to recover. But what is really upsetting me is that they keep telling me that I MUST stop climbing as it is the worst sport I could do with hip dysplasia. And they also reckon that I will be needing hip replacement surgery quite soon – very scary at my age.
I know I can’t change my dysplasia (I have a mild form), but I can’t get to terms with the thought of not being able to climb again. I’m thinking maybe if I really work on my muscle strength that I can take pressure off my joints…
Do you know anyone with hip dysplasia or who has started climbing again after labrum surgery?
Thank you so much!!
Richard Glazzard says
This is hugely reassuring. I’m 36 and found out I need a THR on my left because of Osteoarthritis. I’ve been climbing properly since I was 22 so would be gutted to not be able to climb again.
Thanks you for your blog.
Patti Hutchison says
Inspiring! I had a similar experience, and my doc had my story published in a local medical magazine. Here’s the link if interested. Thanks for the story!
John Garrett says
Thank you. I’ve been putting off hip replacement because I can still climb. I can’t walk, but I can climb. Your story helps me to move forward that walking and climbing is in my future.