Joint Replacement Patient Testimonials
If you’re like most people, you’ve probably imagined joint replacement surgery involving a long hospital stay, months of rehabilitation and restrictive limitations on your physical mobility. But you may be surprised to learn that modern medical advances have made surgical procedures such as knee replacement surgery and hip replacement surgery a lot less invasive. In this video, you’ll meet two people who are living active, pain-free lives today thanks to knee replacement surgery that was far less cumbersome than they had imagined.
My path to pain-free living
Hip Replacement Surgery
The story of Stephanie Varnum’s hip replacement “journey” starts in West Texas, continues through the Panama Canal, and ends up in the beautiful forests of eastern Pennsylvania.
Stephanie loves travel and hiking – especially when it brings her close to nature. In 2002, she became a Texas Master Naturalist, a certification from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. (To earn the certification, Master Naturalists complete extensive training in forest, prairie, and water ecosystems.)
When her left hip began to hurt several years ago, Stephanie worried it could limit her ability to enjoy those hobbies. The pain started getting noticeably worse by February 2017, when she traveled with friends to West Texas, visiting Alpine, Marfa and Big Bend National Park. Still, Stephanie was able to keep up on hikes with her friends and manage the pain with ibuprofen at night.
But a few months later, when she took a “bucket list” cruise through the Panama Canal, her hip began to really bother her.
“I didn’t sleep well at night,” she said. “The pain was becoming a problem.”
When she returned, she saw Dr. Donald Hohman, a joint replacement specialist on the medical staff at Texas Health Center for Diagnostics and Surgery. X-rays showed significant damage in her hip. Dr. Hohman told her she was a candidate for hip replacement, and encouraged her to proceed sooner rather than later, given that Stephanie was healthy and had no other major medical issues.
After trying an injection of steroids in her hip – with no improvement – Stephanie scheduled the surgery for July. The day before, she attended an orientation program, where she pre-registered, toured the surgical floor and met some of the nurses who’d be caring for her.
“The orientation was excellent,” she said. “I felt very comfortable going into it.”
Surgery proceeded the next day as planned. Six hours later, Stephanie was up and walking. Medications kept the post-op pain to a minimum without making her feel groggy or nauseated.
“Dr. Hohman’s bedside manner was wonderful,” she added. “I told him, ‘I know you’ve spent thousands of hours training to do this. As a recipient of your expertise, thank you.’
Stephanie followed the prescribed regimen of post-op exercise and then physical therapy. Having favored one hip for years, she had to work hard to get some of her muscles back in shape.
The effort paid off. Recently, just eight weeks after surgery, Stephanie joined a group of friends for a trip to eastern Pennsylvania. They strolled through Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pa., and hiked up Hawk Mountain, located in a wild bird sanctuary in Kempton, Pa.
Stephanie walked two to four miles each day on the trip. At the end of each day, she was tired – but had no pain.
Now that she’s almost fully recovered, Stephanie calls the hip replacement an “amazingly positive experience.”
“My father had a hip replacement about 25 years ago,” she said. “I remember he was in a lot of pain after the surgery and really struggled. To see how much easier the recovery is now – it has just been a quantum leap.”
From Hip Replacement to Alaskan Adventure
Learn how Candis didn’t let her arthritis slow her down
Candis “Candy” Zechmeister
Hip Replacement Surgery
For her 50th wedding anniversary, Candis Zechmeister is going to Alaska—and she’ll be enjoying the trip pain-free, thanks to Dr. Donald Hohman, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at Texas Health Center for Diagnostics and Surgery.
Candis started having pain in her left hip about five years ago, and it was slowing her down.
“My husband, Dan, and I used to walk a lot,” she said. “We’ve always been very active. But the pain worsened to the point where we had to stop all the time.” The couple had also enjoyed biking, skiing, and golfing, but Candis’ arthritis made those activities too difficult as well.
Initial x-rays didn’t show any problems, so the first strategy was to “wait and see.” Candis worked with her doctor to manage pain with injections, but by January 2016, her arthritis had progressed to the point where she had “bone on bone” in the joint.
“The hip joint is a ball and socket joint, with the ends of the bone covered with a smooth layer called articular cartilage, which allows the bones to glide smoothly in motion,” explained Dr. Hohman. “Arthritis causes a loss of the articular cartilage, which can eventually lead to bone rubbing against bone.”
Candis consulted with Dr. Hohman, who performs hip replacement surgery using minimally invasive, muscle-sparing techniques. For Candis, the decision to go ahead wasn’t difficult.
“I have friends that have had the procedure, and done well with it,” she said. “My husband has had a knee replacement, which is more involved, so I felt I could do it.”
For Candis, the surgery involved a small incision, only four inches long. Intravenous pain medications kept the post-surgical pain at a minimum.
“I had almost no pain, except when they got me up to walk—that hurt a little bit,” she said.
That’s typical, according to Dr. Hohman, who specializes in the management of pain and the rapid return of function around the time of surgery for his hip and knee replacement surgeries.
“In the last few years, we’ve made so many advances in the surgical techniques and in managing the pain,” he said. “Most patients find the discomfort minimal.”
After the surgery, Candis spent one night at the hospital and was released the next afternoon.
“The surgery center was great,” she said. “Most of the patients there come for day surgery, so if you do stay overnight, the nurses pay a lot of attention to you!”
For the first two weeks, Candis used a walker to get around, then started rehab. Within a month after a surgery, she was driving and enjoying outings to the movies, the symphony and a ballgame. Now she’s getting back to enjoying life—walking, reading (she’s part of a book club), enjoying movies with Dan, keeping up with her two daughters and four grandchildren, and traveling.
And this summer, she and Dan will celebrate 50 years of marriage with an Alaskan adventure: a flight to Anchorage, train trips to Denali and Seward, and then a cruise to Vancouver.
“I’m just amazed at how quickly I’ve come back,” she said. “Dan told me he was proud of me.”