Author: Kari Ranten
Elliott Johnson enjoys an active life and looks forward to a return to the gym, jogging and hitting the road in his motorhome after having his left hip resurfaced.
The Mount Vernon, Washington-based attorney has suffered from hip problems and increasing pain from arthritis in his hip for many years, and two years ago it was clear that his hip was wearing out.
At 59 years old, he searched for a solution that would help him keep an active lifestyle for many years to come and orthopedic surgeon Curtis Rodin, MD of Skagit Island Orthopedic Surgeons had just the solution.
Dr. Rodin received training in 2006 in the Birmingham hip resurfacing technique, taught in Birmingham, England and followed up with additional experience in Calgary, Alberta, performing his first procedures in Skagit Valley in May 2007.
Resurfacing is a technique that spares the hip bone and is a good alternative for younger, active patients. The orthopedic surgeon shapes the arthritic or damaged joint and resurfaces the ball and socket with cobalt chrome alloy of stainless steel, creating a smooth, low-friction surface for the joint.
Having a resurfacing procedure also reserves the future option of a total hip replacement, which traditionally involves removal of the bone at the neck of the ball, with the implant inserted into the femur.
"Candidates for hip resurfacing tend to be highly motivated, younger people who have already done a fair amount of research on their own and they have a pretty good idea of what they want to do," Dr. Rodin said. "A replacement will last 20 years, which isn't very long to a patient with arthritis in their 40s or 50s, or even some in their 60s."
The surgery is more involved than the traditional hip replacement and patients spend two to three days in the hospital following surgery. Patients are quickly gotten up and moving and pain of the previously arthritic or damaged hip subsides.
In fact, Johnson did research his options and was delighted to find that Dr. Rodin is among the few in the region to perform the resurfacing procedure.
"If I am going to be active, it's just really clear that this is what I wanted to do and I'm thrilled I could have the surgery here," Johnson said. "I want to stay active."
Johnson had surgery on September 29, 2008 and nine days later was walking without a cane. One month after surgery, Johnson said he experienced a little discomfort as he continued to heal, but the true pain of his hip and back are gone and he was back to work half time. At six weeks, he was "virtually pain free and am back in the gym to start the process of getting some strength back into some muscles in my legs and hips." His goal is to attend his favorite "body pump" class by March.
"It takes time to get your energy back," Johnson said. "I could not be happier with the results of my surgery and the decision to pursue the Birmingham resurfacing rather than conventional hip replacement."
Johnson has no plans for retirement as he enjoys his work in elder law, preparing wills, long-term care planning and health care directives. It's a job he can take on the road with him as well, writing and preparing documents by computer in the motorhome.
"I love what I do. I'm helping people," he said. "I have no interest in retiring."
Kari Ranten is Director of Marketing at Skagit Valley Hospital. Among Kari's responsibilities is raising awareness about Hip Replacement and Resurfacing for Skagit Valley's Orthopedic Surgery & Spine Care Department: http://www.skagitvalleyhospital.org/program-services/orthopedics/