‘Anticipating’ hip replacement surgery
Hip replacement surgery is a daunting prospect for anyone. Fortunately, the first suggestion of the surgical option usually comes well in advance of the need for the actual operation. You have time to get used to the idea. Nevertheless, a visit to the orthopaedic surgeon starts to shape your thinking towards the inevitable. This is especially true when levels of pain and physical limitations are increasing.
If, like me, you try to find more natural ways, of dealing with health issues, then surgical intervention can seem scary in the extreme. Now that I’m five years on the other side of double hip surgery, I can say that your hip replacement surgery may give you your life back. I’m thankful to modern technology performed by a highly skilled surgeon.
Yoga practitioners who are due to have a hip replacement will have to make some sacrifices before life becomes all sunshine and roses again. In the lead-up to surgery, you are likely to have been in discomfort, developed a limp, and changed your lifestyle considerably.
Poses that you formerly preformed with ease, may not be accessible. If you had a strong practice, you need to adopt gentler and more reflective yoga practices. Making such changes takes humility and dedication to loving self-care, qualities that weakened when we’ve been in pain.
If you have been an independent person, you will need to become more reliant on others, both before and after the surgery. That’s just a given. It was hard for me to learn to ask for support, but then doing so became one of the most transformative “gifts” from the experience.
As you do, I surfed the internet to see what types of surgery were available, and I looked at all sorts of prostheses. I came to realise that I had no idea what was best. The amount of information is staggering. Rather than relying on Dr. Google, I trusted the surgeon I chose, and simply followed his advice. When you get right down to it, the specialists are the ones with all the experience.
If you’re curious about the kind of surgery I underwent, it’s called a posterior hip replacement. Ceramic and titanium devices were installed to replace the parts that had worn out. I was told these would give me the strength and durability that would effectively restore mobility and balance that I’d lost.
Your yoga life after surgery
When quizzed about my post-op rehabilitation, I’m invariably asked if I can do everything I used to do. Absolutely not! I am limited compared to some of the range of movement I used to have. For a hyper-mobile body type like mine, such ‘limitations’ probably make my hips stronger and more stable. For the most part, yoga students need to be working on strength and stability instead of ultra-flexibility. The good news is that hip surgery has had me strengthen my hips.
I returned to teaching yoga four months post-surgery, taking it slowly to recover and rehabilitate. When I had my five year check-up a few months ago, my surgeon was pleased with my progress. He even asked if he could have access to some of my published writing to show his patients who are yoga practitioners.
The expense of this type of operation and physiotherapy for rehabilitation is considerable. On top of the costs associated with surgery, you will need to take some weeks off work for a full recovery. But it’s an investment in your future – not something to economise on. Besides, you could view any time off as a personal retreat.
Here’s an image three years after my replacement surgery:
Over the years I’ve received letters from teachers and students who are thinking about undergoing hip replacement surgery. If you are considering the operation or know of someone who is, click here for more information from an earlier post I wrote to ‘hip arthritis sufferers’.
Hi Eve, I’m not sure that you remember, but I had a successful double knee replacement in 2012 and enjoyed your yoga very much up until then. I then had to have a right hip replacement 12 months ago. The pain in that hip had become unbearable (just when I was getting over the knee replacements) and I was told that I had no choice but to have a full hip replacement. Believing that the recovery time would be much shorter, I chose a local surgeon to carry out the procedure via the anterior (front) approach. It turned out to be a bad decision. I was in agony after the procedure and was almost totally immobile, with agonising pain from any type of movement, especially rising from a seated position ( it was even painful for others to watch me I think), and walking. When I did walk, it was with a massive limp, only assisted with a cane. My hip was much worse than prior to the surgery. After further tests by a different surgeon in Newcastle (the one who had carried out my knee replacements), it was found that the new hip was 69% out of alignment and the leg was too long. Due to the type of pin that had been put in, it was deemed too difficult to remove the prosthetic pin without splitting my femur in half and peeling it back, (this was the only option to decrease the leg length), so the pin was left intact in the leg. The prosthetic cup, however, had to be removed and replaced, via a posterior (rear) approach. The new surgeon found that the cup was slowly crushing inside and was digging into the muscle surrounding the hip (which is what was causing the pain), and he was able to cut away some tissue internally to shorten the leg length. Whilst this revision surgery has had a better outcome than the first operation, I am still not pain free and walk with a slight limp. I have been unable to do any real exercise at all since this hip surgery all began, but have recently started basic yoga practice (and I do mean basic) again, because it simply makes me feel better mentally. Recent chiro work has assisted with the pain, and the simple yoga work helps with my mind. I would love to come back to yoga lessons with you again, but feel that i would be too awkward and burdensome for you and the other students as I am extremely limited in what I can do. Getting up and down on the floor is a workout in itself. I do love reading your blog and am happy to continue trying the basic yoga moves that you post.