My story is one of 20 years of gradual hip degeneration, in my case classified as FAI: femoral acetabular impingment, simply a heavily used hip joint from a highly active lifestyle, perhaps initiated by some labrum tear at a moment of particular stress/strain and then progressive involvement of joint tissue with cartilage wear, bone on bone conditions developing, and consequent osteophyte growth.

The images above show over twenty years of osteoarthritis development in my hips, as compared to a normal non-OA hip (blue image), with my left hip showing more severe degeneration and cyst development (right side of image) 

I’ve played soccer since my youth and began rock climbing and mountaineering at age 20. I first noticed compromised movement in my left hip at age 36 but continued my active lifestyle until I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis at age 40 whereupon I limited my activities in the interest of preserving what function remained for as long as possible.  

Throughout my 25 years in the healthcare field I’ve helped with the rehab of many joint surgeries and have seen successes as well as failures and held a reluctance to undergo surgery myself. As an alternative therapist I’ve used acupuncture, craniosacral, jin shin, chi healing, muscle therapy, tai chi, and yoga regularly for my own health maintenance for many years and each contributed to prolonging the life of my hips. However, by my late 40s I found I needed to give up many of my outdoor interests including ice skating, skiing, and running, as they all became too painful.  I continued my rock climbing only because of my love of it yet limited my climbs to short easy ones.

I then heard about hip resurfacing from one of my taiji teachers – a procedure that provided a possible path to rejuvenation without restriction in activity or range of motion – and saw this as very desirable for myself as a young athlete. 

However, at this point of waiting, my left hip had degenerated to the point of needing support often, and although I was still active with canoe trips and bicycling, my distance was growing very short, running at most 20 feet, bicycling only 2 miles, and even my taiji was being shortened.  Had I discovered resurfacing sooner perhaps my femoral head would have accepted a resurfacing., but as it was, pre-operative X-rays of my joints showed possible excessive necrosis that may preclude hip resurfacing for me.  

It was then that I learned of the new bone-conserving MiniHip prothesis which, like resurfacing, supports complete range of motion, no dislocation, and continued sports activity. The MiniHip design offers a non-metal-on-metal solution for hip OA and is considered an appropriate choice for younger, active patients that wish to continue being active.  Certainly the hip resurfacing is a better choice for bone conserving should revision be needed, yet this MiniHip is designed to be easily repaired without the need to revise the bone implant components.  Designed so that the cup and stem stay fixed, the articulating components can be replaced easily.  With both being bone growth there is some arguement for the fixation being longer-lasting than the commonly cemented resurfacing stem.

So, I chose to schedule for hip resurfacing and to accept this new MiniHip option as a backup option should the hip resurfacing prove to be contraindicated due to the advanced necrosis (and this was the case for my left hip).

I underwent my first operation in September 2010 and was up using my hip again that same day. Although the muscle rehab was hard work, I was thrilled with the results – within one week I was down to one crutch, largely finished with the cane at four weeks, and at five weeks had resumed my favorite activities of rock climbing and motorcycling.  By 12 weeks I felt as if no surgery had ever been done.  What a gift this was considering what I had endured.

With my lightness of gait from years of tai chi I was able to last a long time before surgery, yet endured much limitation. Back then I did not consider that I would ever recover a wonderful, natural feeling and assumed that any THR would include some limitation and should therefore be avoided as long as possible. With the MiniHip, I have had a seamless return to normal strength and flexibility in my left hip and I find it easy to do powerful activities that I long ago gave up on: ice skating, skiing, sledding with my young children, rock climbing, motorcycle riding,  

I am so pleased with what this MiniHip has given me that I elected to have one for my right hip as well and surgery was done in April 2011.  Some of the decision was clearly for symetry with the left, some for the smaller incision and lessor trauma over the resurfacing procedure, and some on the chance that it may have actual advantages over resurfacing.

I am very pleased that my waiting brought me to this place and am very grateful that the technology in hip replacements advanced to meet me when I finally needed it. I am delighted to have such natural strength and movement returned to my body – I feel that I have many years of enjoyment of life ahead of me. 

Details of the procedure and of my recovery are in the accompanying pages of this web site.