From preparing for a run to preparing for a hip replacement

Patient Story

Fran Day had always been very athletic. As a competitive tennis player, skier and avid runner, she was accustomed to being on her feet and turning her body to meet every serve on the tennis court and every swerve on the running path. So, when she noticed some pain during her training for an upcoming marathon, she was surprised.

“I thought I had maybe used too high of an incline on the treadmill,” she explains. “I figured it was just my IT band or some pain in my groin, but after a couple months of self-diagnosis, it wasn’t going away.”

Seeking a medical opinion, Fran visited her local orthopaedist, who recommended rehabilitation as a first step and cortisone shots if the pain persisted. The worst case scenario, he said, would be a hip replacement.

“It was really a shock. One day, I’m preparing to do a run, and the next day they’re talking about a possible hip replacement,” says Fran.

She took the more cautious avenue first, agreeing to attend physical rehabilitation. However, after two months the pain had not only persisted, but gotten worse. She returned for cortisone shots, hoping to avoid the hip replacement she had been dreading since its first mention. Still, the cortisone shots couldn’t alleviate Fran’s pain.

She began seeking other pain management techniques, visiting an acupuncturist and taking tai chi classes, a fitness routine that promotes posture, stability, balance and an overall healthy hip. Although the acupuncture managed and lessened Fran’s pain, she knew that it wasn’t treating the underlying problem.

So, after six months of natural techniques and doctor recommendations and 13 months after her injury, Fran set up her first appointment at the Rothman Institute at Riddle Hospital with orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Peter Sharkey after a recommendation from a friend. During that appointment, Dr. Sharkey delivered the news to her that a hip replacement was her best and only option for long-term recovery.

“He took an x-ray and told me I was bone-on-bone and that I needed a hip replacement. He didn’t dance around the issue and very direct with the kind of treatment I needed,” Fran says.

Dr. Sharkey emphasized the progress that hip replacement surgery has made and the benefits that it had for Fran and other patients like her.

“Hip replacements have evolved over the past 50 years, but it has always been considered a miraculous intervention for patients suffering from hip arthritis,” he says. “However, the surgery can now be performed less invasively and with a much quicker recovery time. In addition, the materials and implants used in these surgeries are now expected to provide patients like Fran an active lifestyle for many decades.”

A week after she came to terms with the diagnosis, Fran scheduled her hip replacement.  In the weeks leading up to her procedure, Fran abandoned her usual fitness routines of tennis and biking for muscle strengthening exercises that would help her recover more quickly from surgery. Adjusting her routine and preparing for surgery was certainly an adjustment, but Fran credits the medical staff throughout the process for their professional and caring attitudes.

“The staff at the pre-operative testing center was so courteous and thorough, and they made me feel very comfortable,” she says. “I knew what to expect and what was expected of me.”

Dr. Sharkey performed a total hip replacement on Fran on May 22 at Riddle Hospital. After a two-day post-operative stay, Fran returned home to finish her recovery and, in June, began her rehabilitation. To strengthen her hip, her rehab focused primarily on cardiovascular workouts like the elliptical and bicycle, Thera-Band stretches, weight-lifting, and squats. Eight weeks after her surgery, Fran was back to biking on her own.

“Before my surgery, I was in the gym five days per week, and I was back in by mid-July,” says Fran.

Although she has not been able to get back to running just yet, Fran says her next goal now that she’s conquered biking is to get back on the tennis court.

Now, almost four months after her surgery, Fran is feeling healthy, strong and pain-free, a task she credits to her physical health and the care and expertise of Dr. Sharkey and the Rothman Institute at Riddle Hospital.

“Rothman is fabulous,” she says. “Dr. Sharkey was so friendly and had this warmth about him that was comforting, but you could tell he really knew what he was doing. Some people were wondering why I picked Riddle, but I told them: ‘This isn’t the Riddle that you think you know, this is something much bigger.’ I’m so pleased with the care I received.”

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