For years, John Bolt III enjoyed spending time outdoors playing golf and walking his dogs — until he started experiencing chronic pain in his right hip and back.
The Morehead City, North Carolina, resident said his pain limited his mobility and decreased his social time with his friends for about three years.
“I used to walk quite a bit with my dogs in the morning. I found that over an increasing period of time, it was getting harder and harder to get a full walk in,” John said. “And playing golf really became so painful that I just finally gave up on it.”
John’s pain also interrupted quality time with his wife of 54 years.
“My wife and I enjoy dancing,” he said. “For the last three years, prior to surgery, I pretty much wasn’t able to really get out there and dance. It was just too painful.”
Initially, physicians thought he may have had a sciatic nerve problem in his back. X-rays revealed the problem was actually in his hip.
Knowing Treatment Options Vary
Several years ago, John had a successful knee replacement surgery under the care of orthopedic surgeon Dr. Thomas E. Bates. Because of that physician-patient relationship, he consulted Dr. Bates about his hip pain.
For any joint pain, Dr. Bates said nonoperative and conservative measures are explored first for treatment. Nonsurgical measures may include physical therapy, activity modification, anti-inflammatory medication and sometimes injections into joints.
After considering his options, John chose total hip replacement surgery. This procedure replaces the hip’s damaged bone and cartilage with prosthetic components called implants.
“The pain had gotten chronic, and it just never [went] away. And that’s pretty mentally debilitating as well as physically debilitating. I was really ready to try to get something done to get rid of the pain and to become active again.”
Each year, more than 450,000 total hip replacements are performed in the United States, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
“Patients typically present with pain, decreased range of motion to their joints,” Dr. Bates said. “They sometimes have swelling and even mechanical symptoms that cause them difficulties when they’re doing certain activities.”
Orthopedic physicians might recommend hip replacement surgery if patients have one or more of the following symptoms:
- Hip pain that limits everyday activities, such as walking or bending
- Hip pain that continues while resting, either day or night
- Stiffness in a hip that limits the ability to move or lift the leg
- Inadequate pain relief from anti-inflammatory drugs, physical therapy or walking supports
Recovering From Surgery at Home
After COVID-19 delayed John’s procedure at a nearby hospital, physicians determined he was a good candidate for outpatient surgery. He had surgery in February 2022 at The Surgery Center of Morehead City, an AMSURG affiliated ambulatory surgery center.
“We typically do a case in the morning, and patients are home by lunchtime,” Dr. Bates said. “We have physical therapy coming to our center getting the patient up immediately [after surgery]. I think that decreases the risk of complications for patients and it also puts their family members at ease when they’re involved in the process.”
John was discharged from the surgery center the same day to recover at home. The next day, he started at-home physical therapy with a walker while awaiting his first post-operative appointment.
“I knew that walking was going to be the best thing that I could do from that point on,” he said. “I did all my walking indoors for probably the first couple of weeks.
Three weeks after surgery, he transitioned from using a walker to a cane to walking unassisted.
“And, within six weeks, I was released to go back to playing golf if I wanted to. So, it was a very positive experience for me.”
Returning to an Active lifestyle
More than a year after his hip replacement, John reports significant pain relief and improved mobility.
“I was pleasantly surprised how quickly I was able to recover,” he said.
He and his wife walk about two miles every day with their dogs, and when the weather is suitable, he plays golf sometimes twice a week. He also enjoys date nights and dancing again.
The Importance of Not Delaying Treatment
If people experience chronic pain in the knee, hip, shoulder or back, they should not ignore these symptoms. They should discuss treatment options with a physician.
“Things have changed over the years since I first started doing joint replacements,” Dr. Bates said. “We have been doing outpatient total joints at our facility. That really has been a game-changer in the way of recovery and satisfaction from patients and their families.”
AMSURG teams always keep the patient’s health and safety a priority and look for the least-invasive and best way to repair patients’ hips or other joints. For surgical procedures, physicians use skilled techniques to improve patients’ mobility and help them maintain an active lifestyle.
“When [hip pain keeps] you from doing anything that involves any type of walking or movement … that’s just not a way to live,” John said. “Get [surgery] done, and then really work at the rehab part. I think that’s important. It gets you back to normal as quickly as possible.”
This is designed for educational purposes only. The information provided should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health concern or disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health concern, you should consult your healthcare provider.