Friday, January 25, 2013

Better than before?

Is it crazy to imagine bicycling even better than before? How about walking better than before?

I just watched a video of someone who had arthritis in the hip before her hip replacement. She displayed everything I had been experiencing before my accident:
- Years (decades) of walking with my leg left splayed out.
- Always feeling like my left leg was longer than my right leg.
- Always leaning more on my right leg when standing, to compensate for the "extra" length in the left leg.

Here's a link to the video I'm referring to:

Hip Replacement Walking

When my surgeon saw the x-ray of my left hip before performing surgery, he discovered some advanced arthritis in the hip socket. It's funny how the body compensates over time when it learns how to adjust to the progressive "wear and tear" disease of osteoarthritis. My walking never appeared to be as bad as it was for the woman in this video. But then, I learned how to compensate for the damage over time. Changes I had been making in my walking and standing over the years were mostly done without thought. I ever remember my dad making a comment about how I swung my left leg laterally when I walked. It was probably 30 years ago when he made that comment. That means I would have been experiencing arthritis in my hip when I was only 24 years old. More than half my life has been spent with an arthritic hip.

One of the very first things I noticed after my hip replacement, was how straight my left leg was now tracking. Never in my life do I remember my leg tracking this well.

This is going to be an interesting recovery.


  1. Hi Mark

    The story of your accident which resulted in your hip replacement and the subsequent discovery that you'd been suffering from osteoarthritis has already got me interested. I'm sitting on my 'modified' sofa on my first full day back home since having my left hip replaced on Tuesday 29/01/2013 (sorry 01/29/13 :-). My right hip was replaced 9 weeks previous to this. You've probably figured out from my date format that I live in the UK.

    I'm also an avid cyclist. I was averaging 200 miles/week last summer but stopped completely when I received my diagnosis in October 2012. I'd thought I had a bad back which had got progressively worse over the last few years. I'd get a dull ache in my lower back and then pain in my thighs. Riding my bike would relieve the symptoms, but over the course of the last 6 months it became more persistent. I hadn't really noticed the other effects but now looking back over the previous few years I realise that I'd started to struggle to hit a golf ball as far as I used to be able to and any kind of physical effort, other than cycling, would result in extreme stiffness and groin pain. My regular golfing partners started to comment that my lower body looked frozen.

    The real eye opener was when I went for a ride with a friend who I hadn't ridden with for 9 months and he was shocked at just how much my knees were splayed whilst pedalling.

    Long story short, I went to see a spinal surgeon who immediately diagnosed hip problems due to osteoarthritis. Upon seeing my x-rays he said he was surprised I could even walk unaided and said bipolar hip replacement was the only option. Due to my relatively young age (45) and my activity aspirations he referred me onto a another surgeon who specialised purely in hips.

    My surgeon described my hips as 'hopeless' and 'miserable' and estimated 30-40% range of motion had already been lost. He suggested I stopped cycling just in case of an accident and within weeks my joints began to seize. His recommendation was total hip replacement with ceramic on ceramic uncemented implants.

    It's only now with 9 weeks recovery on my right hip and 4 days on my left that I can appreciate how long my joints have been impacting me. The new hips feel incredibly smooth and I can sense a freedom of movement that I can't recall ever having. I'm completely free of joint and associated thigh and back pain. I can raise my legs without my knees naturally splaying outwards. With only 4 days on my left hip I'm incredibly excited about the future.

    The physiotherapists said that a good baseline of strength and fitness is the biggest aid to recovery and they told me to resist the temptation to try and over do it too early. My intention is to avoid all my bikes until the spring and instead focus on flexibility and range of motion exercise. I walk several times a day and stretch lightly whenever the opportunity arises. In 6 weeks I'll start to swing a golf club in preparation for a summer of competitive golf.

    I think you are going to have the same realisation that your hip joint has unknowingly been impacting you. Possibly you already have realised this.

    I'll be following your blog and wish you all the best and many happy miles ahead.


    1. Hello Jon,

      Wow, you're story is so inspiring!
      I'm beginning to do some light, indoor cycling, but I can clearly see the importance to focus on flexibility and ROM exercises. I'm slowly gaining more muscle strength, of which much was lost. Right now, my biggest struggle is tightness.

      There seems to be a delicate balance between rebuilding the lost muscle and regaining flexibility. I'm learning that I have to work on each, patiently and consistantly. I've been using a roller massage stick (called "The Stick"). I also ordered a radical type of foam roller called the "Rumble Roller". The massage stick is helping considerably, to break up the knots and adhesions that have developed since the surgery.

      If I may ask, where did you find out about me or my blog? If you want, please send me an email so we can continue further discussing our recoveries.

      Thank you for your suggestions!