Toledo woman enjoys gardening again after two hip replacement surgeries.
What a difference a year makes. This time last year, Catherine Day wasn’t sure if she would ever walk again.
Her arthritis had progressed to the point that she was forced to use a wheelchair to avoid the excruciating pain caused by walking. “I needed help doing almost everything, including getting dressed in the morning,” Catherine said. Housework was out of the question. “I couldn’t cook, clean, run the vacuum, or do the laundry. I had to rely on my husband for everything. I don’t know what I would have done without him.”
After pain doctor and physical therapy appointments, Catherine was referred to Sarah Bush Lincoln Orthopedic Surgeon Aaron Eubanks, MD, FAAOS. Dr. Eubanks specializes in arthroscopic repair, as well as arthroplastic reconstruction of the shoulder, elbow, hip and knee. He was confident that he could help her and certain she would regain her ability to walk. “I admit I was a little skeptical at first, but I had a lot of faith in him,” Catherine said of Dr. Eubanks.
She was diagnosed, by Dr. Eubanks, with advanced avascular necrosis of the hips, a condition which can lead to rapid deterioration of the hip bone and severe pain. Undergoing two separate hip replacement surgeries, the first in December 2011 and the second in February 2012, the 60-year-old Toledo grandmother is back on her feet again. “I can climb stairs and curbs, and walk with no help. I can drive for the first time in two years and go to the store. I would never have believed I could be pain-free, walking straight and tall again,” Catherine said.
Catherine’s troubles began about 10 years ago when she suffered a fall at work. While she underwent spinal fusion surgery to alleviate pain in her lower back two years later, she also suffered permanent nerve damage to her leg and foot causing her to walk differently. “I think the way I was walking was contributing to my problems,” she said. As time went on she started experiencing pain that shot down her legs to her knees. It wasn’t long before she needed a walker to maintain her mobility.
By the time she saw Dr. Eubanks, her knees were practically fused together and she was in a wheelchair. “I couldn’t separate my knees. I was like a clam, and I was in constant pain,” she said. Just three days after her first hip replacement surgery on December 12, Catherine said she felt so much better. “I still had pain, but it was a different kind of pain,” she said, just as Dr. Eubanks told her she should expect.
Receiving physical therapy through Lincolnland Home Care, she gradually started making progress toward regaining her independence. Her progress really accelerated after her second hip replacement surgery on Feb. 13. She began walking with a walker again following her surgery and started dressing herself without pain. It wasn’t long before the pain in her knees completely went away. “I haven’t had any problems with my knees since my hip replacements,” she said.
Sticking closely to the physical therapists suggestions and plans, Catherine started recovering much quicker than anticipated. “My therapists made me feel so good about the progress I was making that I wanted to keep going. They really motivated me,” she said. Just six weeks after her second surgery, Catherine made enough progress to start walking with a cane. And six weeks after that, she exceeded even her own expectations began walking unassisted.
Diligent about doing her exercises at home, Catherine turned household chores into an opportunity to do more therapy. When hanging laundry on the clothesline, she placed the laundry basket at the top of the back porch steps and made multiple trips up and down the stairs to gather clothes and get more exercise. She also exercised while doing the dishes going up and down the counter.
She started canning home grown fruits and vegetables again. “It’s so nice to be able to do it by myself on my own time again. I’ve been canning for years. It’s something my family has always done, but I’ve had to have so much help in recent years,” she said.
Catherine and her husband, Rick, expressed their gratitude to Dr. Eubanks and physical therapists at Sarah Bush Lincoln for helping her to live pain-free again. “They have made such a dramatic difference in my life. I have no pain whatsoever. I can do so many things that I couldn’t do for a couple of years. I’m very thankful,” she said. “My family is very impressed with Dr. Eubanks and we highly recommend him to others.”
Dr. Eubanks is continually striving to improve the care available to his patients. He has recently undergone further training in total hip arthroplasty, in order to provide anterior approach techniques to minimize patient recovery time and provide a safer operative experience.
A New Approach to Hip Replacement
Mike McKibben was afraid he wouldn’t be able to plant his annual tomato garden this year due to increasing pain in his left hip.
“It got to the point where it was painful to do any kind of exertion at all, even getting out of a chair,” the 56-year-old rural Toledo man recalled. “The pain kept me up at night.” Unfortunately, McKibben was very familiar with hip pain. He has suffered ongoing problems with his right hip since being involved in a traffic accident in 2004. McKibben has had his right hip replaced twice and suffered complications that caused him to favor his left hip for years.
Despite the pain, McKibben, worried that conventional hip replacement surgery of his left hip would mean a long, painful recuperation like he the ones he previously experienced. Instead, his doctor, Sarah Bush Lincoln Orthopedic Surgeon Aaron Eubanks, MD, FAAOS, proposed an alternative that is gaining popularity across the country, a procedure that helps patients recover more quickly.
McKibben was amazed by the results. “I could immediately tell a difference,” he said, following his surgery in March. “I didn’t have the same degree of pain as before and I was back to most of my normal activities within a matter of weeks.”
The procedure that McKibben received is called anterior hip replacement. The surgeon makes the incision at the front of the hip instead of through the side or the back of the hip. This approach permits the doctor to reach the hip socket without cutting through major muscle groups. Dr. Eubanks said the procedure often results in less pain and fewer complication for patients than standard hip replacement.
“We’re seeing more and more data that patients recover quicker, discontinue use of a cane or walker sooner, and have a quicker return to a normal gait,” Dr. Eubanks said. He notes that because the procedure spares muscles, patients don’t need to limit their movements during the recovery period.
Following his surgery, McKibben restored the strength and motion in his legs with the help of physical therapy. “I’m really impressed with the new procedure,” he said. “I recovered much quicker this time and I don’t have any pain in my left hip.” He was also impressed with Dr. Eubanks’ approach to his care. “He was upfront with me and thoroughly explained my options. I felt like I could talk to him and he listened to my concerns.”
McKibben said he is riding his motorcycle again and has 52 tomato plants in the ground this year. Known in the area for making salsa and chili, he is thankful he won’t be disappointing people this year. “There are a lot of people counting on my salsa,” he said.
While most surgeons use the posterior approach for hip replacement surgery, the anterior approach has re-emerged as a viable option for certain patients, because it can also be done through smaller incisions using more specialized instruments. Dr. Eubanks is specially trained and is now performing anterior approach hip replacement surgery utilizing a specially designed table.