Avera Medical Minute: Getting back to life after a total hip replacement

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Sioux Falls, S.D. - Many of us probably don't give much thought to our hips, but when problems with them result in pain, they can really impact your everyday life.

Jeffrey Elvecrog is a bit of a travel enthusiast.

“My wife and I like to vacation and often go to urban centers where you don't drive around,” Elvecrog said. “You have the advantage of all the land. Yeah you really get around. Walking is a big part of it.”

After a trip to see his son, he started noticing some pretty intense pain.

“In my case it ran pretty much from right around the knee all the way to your lower back,” Elvecrog said. “At first you're rationalizing, well maybe it’s just, twisted a knee or some muscle in your leg.”

But, over the next few months, the pain continued.

“I started to profoundly limp,” Elvecrog said. “That's when I knew it was getting bad is when your whole body is adjusting to deal with the pain.”

So Jeff saw Dr. Thomas Ambrose an orthopedic surgeon at Avera.

Jeff had already undergone a right hip replacement.

“When he came and saw me, he had arthritis in his left hip and I recommended a left hip replacement,” Ambrose said.

Jeff had a total hip replacement using what is known as the posterior approach.

The other approach is known as anterior.

So what separates the two approaches?

“The posterior approach, we can see the hip joint widely and we can identify where we are putting the parts very precisely by simply looking at the structures,” Ambrose said. “With the anterior approach, it’s through a smaller incision. It’s in a deep hole and in order to ensure that the parts are being put in the right spot, it requires an ex-ray to be done in the operating room.”

Both allow the patient to be up and walking on the day of surgery.

“90 plus percent go home the first day after surgery with only an overnight stay in the hospital,” Ambrose said.

The day of Jeff’s total hip replacement, he was up and walking.

“This time, compared to even the last time it was remarkable,” Elvecrog said. “I was telling Dr. Ambrose, 3, 4 hours after surgery I was able to swivel off the bed and use a walker by myself.”

Today, Jeff is back at work and able to do everything he did before. Something he's grateful for and still amazed by.

“It’s been going great,” Elvecrog said. “It’s not been beyond my capabilities which is great. I wanted to get back to that level. So I’m really not noticing the restrictions as bad as I did the first time.”

Most of the patients see a physical therapist before and after surgery.