Pain-free and grateful: 6 weeks, 2 hip replacements

Archive, June, Month

“As far as I’m concerned, he did the best job ever.”

“Any time I had to use my body I’d be really sore.”

For many years, Robert was conscious of his pain—where it started and, more importantly, how it spread.

Like countless other, he felt an ache in his lower back. It started on the right side before moving to his hip, then down his leg to the knee before eventually feeling it in his foot.

The same thing would happen on his left side, effectively limiting his ability to do much physically without having to spend a day or two afterward sore and recovering.

As a handyman, his need to move around and do potentially strenuous work was vital. It was essential to his ability to make a living.

Even beyond that, it was affecting the overall quality of his life.

“It would hurt to walk, stand and lay in bed,” Robert said. “I would keep flip flopping in bed. And I can’t enjoy my grandkids doing anything—I keep fighting that pain.”

Meeting Dr. Wagner

A longtime patient of McLaren Macomb, Robert’s doctor referred him to orthopedic surgeon Dr. Michael Wagner, who was able to provide a quick and conclusive diagnosis.

“By the time Robert came to our office, he had already been on medications, which weren’t as effective as they’d once been,” he said, “and he was getting increasingly limited in his mobility. Arthritis was a likely diagnosis, but once we ran imaging procedures, we saw just how severe his case was.”

CT images revealed that the arthritis in Robert’s hips were very advanced—the root of all his pain: “It showed both hips were in really bad shape,” Robert said.

The decision was made to replace Robert’s hips—both of them.

Addressing any concerns he may have had, Dr. Wagner assured him that both can be done in a timely manner, and Robert would get to return to the life he knew—pain-free—sooner than he might’ve thought. Prolonged rehabs and intense recoveries from joint surgeries are no longer the case.

“The reality of today’s joint replacement procedures is that the minimally invasive techniques we’re able to employ allow for much less tissue damage, getting the patient up and rehabbing sooner than they once had,” Dr. Wagner said, “The result is that our patients get to increase their range of motion sooner and return to the pain-free life they once enjoyed.”

In Robert’s particular case, it would allow Dr. Wagner to replace both his hips in a matter of weeks, all the while Robert was advancing in his recovery.

A pair of procedures

Robert had his right hip replaced on Jan. 31.

Knowing he would have his left done eventually, they planned for a second operation sometime in the spring.

Robert was discharged back home on the day of his operation, and his recovery began with physical therapists.

“Two weeks after the right hip, I walk into his office with no pain,” Robert said. “Everyone noticed I was walking easier and faster.”

Seeing how exceptional Robert was doing, Dr. Wagner scheduled him for a left hip replacement on March 21, just six weeks after pain in both his hips stopped him from doing much of anything.

The experience was much like before.

“It was a month out, and I was already doing squats,” Robert said. “I feel so good, especially after being in pain for so long. I got used to the pain.”

With a laugh, Robert recalls, “I still get up slow because I was so used to embracing the pain. But there is no pain.”

Dr. Wagner remembers, “I watched him walk into pre-op bent over 90 degrees at the waist using crutches to get around. He’s doing so great now.”

With a refreshed mindset, Robert is now planning his first pain-free summer in years. Top priority: enjoying his four grandkids.

“Biking was so painful, but now, it’ll be great,” he said. “I can start to take grandkids places with a ‘Let’s have fun,’ attitude.

“Glad I met Dr. Wagner. As far as I’m concerned, he did the best job ever.”