Today I received an email from a correspondent facing the prospect of hip surgery after many years of managing his symptoms with yoga. I thought that since many who read this blog are yoga teachers and trainees, or maybe have osteoarthritis themselves, they might benefit from my publishing the letter here.
Where do you live? Hopefully somewhere where you can find a good orthopaedic surgeon, hospital and rehab centre – all of which you’ll need for a successful hip replacement. My surgeon operated on me at one of the best hospitals in the southern hemisphere in terms of hygiene and infection control, a hugely important consideration with hip replacement surgery. Following my discharge, I did 12 days of rehab with physiotherapists at a private hospital. I can’t speak highly enough about the results I received from the surgery and rehabilitation work.
The hardest decision is the exact timing for your surgery. No one can make this decision for you, nor should they. It’s a major operation and requires months of recovery time. The good news is you’ll get your life back, and once the operation is over, you are free from arthritis and will get a little better each day afterwards.
The problem with toughing it out – i.e. waiting too long for the operation – is that your general level of fitness declines, making you more of a surgical risk, and making recovery take longer.
Yoga serves wonderfully to help manage arthritic conditions, even for years and years. However, there’s no shame, no failure of any kind, in saying “it’s time” when one’s quality of life is impaired.
You were asking about my “cover girl photo” in Australian Yoga Life” magazine in 2008. That was taken 20 months before my surgery. I’m a sort of freak of nature in that my tibia/fibula rotation is excessive and gives me an advantage in any of the padmasana variations. This means my femurs don’t seem to have to compensate as much as some individuals’ do. That being said, even after my bi-lateral hip surgery, I can still do padmasana (after a fashion). Why bother though, if there are thousands of other poses to choose among, as well as all the other practices like yoga nidra, pranayama, and meditation.
Let me know if I can help with any further info.
For more of my writing on the subject click here.
P. S. Here’s one of the best poses for those achey-breaky times when pain gets the better of you and saps your energy: chair savasana