Learning that she needed hip replacement at age 55 was the last thing Jane Mathews of Bethpage, New York, expected to hear. She received this news when she sought advice from a local orthopedist because she was feeling pain after resuming a fitness program.
Jane, who had been active in school as a gymnast and basketball and volleyball player and then as a young adult waiting tables in a restaurant, was experiencing a range of aches and pains following workouts. Her muscles hurt and were stiff, she had trouble squatting, and her leg would lock in position while driving. Jane had recently shed some extra pounds on a weight loss regimen and knew that a regular fitness regimen was critical to keeping the weight off and so was determined to remain active.
Jane conducted research about hip replacement on the internet where she learned about Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. On the Hospital website, she found the name of Dr. Michael Alexiades, an HSS orthopedic surgeon, who also has an office on Long Island in New Hyde Park. “I had read that Dr. Alexiades was one of the early adopters of the anterior approach for hip replacement,” recalls Jane.
The anterior hip replacement is a surgery where a four-inch incision is made through the front of the leg, rather than the back, which is the entry point for the more conventional posterior hip replacement surgery. Frontal entry makes it possible to reach the joint by separating, rather than cutting and then reattaching muscles. The anterior hip replacement can often result in a swifter recovery and shorter hospital stay and have few precautions to follow to prevent dislocation, which is more common with the posterior approach.
Jane was interested in the procedure and also liked the benefit of undergoing a surgical treatment at Hospital for Special Surgery because of its excellent reputation for care. “I felt comfortable with HSS because they have done more joint replacement procedures than any other hospital in the country,” she recalls.
Jane went into the hospital in the morning for the one-hour surgery and returned home after a three-day hospital stay. By her second week, she was up and about caring for herself, which included brewing a cup of morning coffee and other light chores, plus navigating a flight of stairs. Within six weeks, she was back at work at her job in marketing.
Jane underwent physical therapy for two months following surgery and then returned to the gym, where she now works out three days a week. “I’m doing things I haven’t been able to do for a long time including the elliptical trainer and cycling,” she says.