Avera Medical Minute: Finding pain relief through hip replacement surgery

Published: Jun. 12, 2023 at 9:57 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Imagine waking up and finding it difficult and painful to just get out of bed. Hip pain is an uncomfortable reality for many Americans, but it’s not something you have to live with forever.

A Hartford woman is living proof that an active lifestyle doesn’t have to be stalled by hip pain.

“What isn’t to like about it? Being outside, being at one with your horse,” said Karrie Mueller.

Karrie is living her best life with a few of her best friends — her horses.

She’s not taking any of these days for granted because not too long ago, getting into the saddle was a near-impossible task.

“There were a good number of years that I couldn’t ride her because of my hips. I couldn’t function, move around, and you’ve got to get up there and hook everything up or get on the horse, and any of the natural movements of the horse — it just hurt,” said Mueller.

Karrie was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in both of her hips. Not only was it robbing her of riding time, but even simple movements were filled with pain.

“When I would go to get out of the pickup, I couldn’t just get out like a normal person. I would have to wait for a popping sound in my leg before I could move. And then it was so bad that I even cried toward the end there. It hurt, and I just couldn’t handle it,” said Mueller.

“Unfortunately, arthritis is a slowly progressive disease. It does not get better. It simply gets worse with time. And everybody with arthritis will ultimately be a candidate for a joint replacement,” said Dr. Thomas Ambrose II, an orthopedic surgeon with the Avera Medical Group Orthopedics.

With bone on bone in both of her hips, Karrie elected to have them both replaced with surgeries staged a few months apart. Karrie says there was a little bit of fear involved, but this was definitely the right choice for her.

“Nothing is stopping me now. I kicked myself for not doing it a lot sooner!” said Mueller.

“We hear that constantly. Most patients are very happy with their result and wish they hadn’t waited so long because they lose the enjoyment of that period of time while they’re miserable with pain,” said Dr. Ambrose.

Every person’s journey is a little different, but Karrie is a perfect example of how surgery can help you return to the things you love. In her case, that’s getting back in the saddle again.

“It’s very gratifying from a surgeon’s standpoint. We do a lot of good in improving patients’ quality of life. That’s what it’s all about,” said Dr. Ambrose.

“I think I’m even more active than I was before. I didn’t realize how much it did affect my life. Now, I don’t think there’s anything that I haven’t done or tried since,” said Mueller.

For more information, visit avera.org/medicalminute.