(BPT) - Hal Sutton had played golf at the professional level for 25 years, winning some of the sport’s most prestigious tournaments along the way, when he decided to take a few years off to spend time with his family. He assumed that golf would be waiting for him when he was ready to come back, and that he would easily be able to resume his career. But he didn’t count on what was also there: osteoarthritis in his left hip that made it nearly impossible to play.
Sutton went to a doctor to see what he would need to do to return to playing golf. Yet, when his physician recommended a total hip replacement, Sutton did what many other Americans do when faced with joint replacement – he put it off. But after nearly two years of daily pain, he eventually realized he could not live that way any longer and decided surgery was his best option.
“I was very tired of the pain I was living in,” he says. “If you live in pain for a long time, you get pretty depressed about it, thinking that your life might not ever change. Once I got past the thought of having to actually have it done, it wasn’t nearly as bad as my brain told me it would be.”
In October 2012, Sutton underwent total hip replacement and received Stryker’s Mobile Bearing Hip System, which is designed to provide patients with stability1, range of motion2, and longevity3. He was also pleased with his recovery: within three days he was up and walking around with a cane and after 30 days he was practicing golf and played in a tournament just three months after surgery.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 27 million Americans suffer from osteoarthritis, with the likelihood of developing the condition more common as one gets older. And Sutton isn’t alone in procrastinating joint replacement surgery; many people put it off and endure years of pain as a result.
Rick Elliott of Cumberland, RI, is one such person. A lifelong athlete, his problems with his knees dated back to high school after a basketball injury, but he kept going – taking up adult league volleyball and long distance running. But after 20 years of arthritis, he knew he had to act.
“I kept trying to pretend I wasn’t doing more damage, but it got to the point where I could hardly walk,” he says. “Finally my doctor said, ‘If we don’t do it now, I won’t be able to help you.’”
In 2008, Elliott got a Stryker GetAroundKnee. And though his initial recovery was tough, at six weeks he got on a stationary bike – and hasn’t missed a day of training since. At age 66, he has now competed in the Rhode Island Senior Olympics since 2010 in the 5,000 and 10,000 “sprint” cycling events, as well as race walking, where he earned gold in the Rhode Island and Connecticut qualifiers. In July 2013, he represented Rhode Island at the Senior Nationals in Cleveland, where he scored his personal best.
Dr. Arnold Scheller of New England Baptist Hospital and Pro Sports Orthopedics in Boston, says that many of his patients who do get joint replacement surgery afterwards often wonder why they waited so long.
“Joint replacement surgeries are designed to improve a patient’s quality of life by restoring function and mobility,” Scheller says. “Putting off surgery can deprive patients of a full and active life. After undergoing hip or knee replacement, many of my patients tell me they wish they hadn’t waited so long. Advancements in materials and design and new surgical approaches can be motivation for many people who are on the fence about it.”
For Elliott, the positive results of his knee replacement actually inspired him to get his shoulder replaced this past year. The difference in his quality of life, and outlook on life, has been amazing, he says.
“When I look in the mirror I don’t feel old,” he adds. “I see other people with knee pain, who just look older. I tell them not to be afraid about knee replacement surgery because it will change your life forever. It’s like two different lifetimes for me – for 20 years my knee was so swollen it was always on my mind. Now I don’t even think about it anymore.”
A year after getting his new hip, Sutton, too, is enthusiastic about the possibilities in his career and personal life – and advises those considering surgery to talk to their doctor.
“Every day you put it off and live with pain is a day you will never get back,” he says. “I waited way too long.”
For more information about joint replacement surgery, speak to your physician or visit www.aboutstryker.com.
5 Signs You Should Talk to Your Doctor about Joint Replacement Surgery
- Your pain has progressed to the point that it wakes you in the middle of the night
- The pain prevents you from doing routine daily activities, including walking up the stairs or getting up out of a chair
- You can no longer participate in physical activities that you enjoy, such as walking for exercise, traveling, or playing with grandchildren, because of the pain
- Your knee is severely swollen or your leg is bowed
- All other treatment options — injections, over the counter medications — have failed
Total knee replacement is intended for use in individuals with joint disease resulting from degenerative, rheumatoid and post-traumatic arthritis, and for moderate deformity of the knee.
Knee replacement surgery is not appropriate for patients with certain types of infections, any mental or neuromuscular disorder which would create an unacceptable risk of prosthesis instability, prosthesis fixation failure or complications in postoperative care, compromised bone stock, skeletal immaturity, severe instability of the knee, or excessive body weight.
As with any surgery, knee replacement surgery has serious risks which include, but are not limited to, peripheral neuropathies (nerve damage), circulatory compromise (including deep vein thrombosis (blood clots in the legs)), genitourinary disorders (including kidney failure), gastrointestinal disorders (including paralytic ileus (loss of intestinal digestive movement)), vascular disorders (including thrombus (blood clots), blood loss, or changes in blood pressure or heart rhythm), bronchopulmonary disorders (including emboli, stroke or pneumonia), heart attack, and death.
Implant related risks which may lead to a revision include dislocation, loosening, fracture, nerve damage, heterotopic bone formation (abnormal bone growth in tissue), wear of the implant, metal sensitivity, soft tissue imbalance, osteolysis (localized progressive bone loss), and reaction to particle debris.
The information presented is for educational purposes only. Knee implants may not provide the same feel or performance characteristics experienced with a normal healthy joint. Speak to your doctor to decide if joint replacement surgery is appropriate for you. Individual results vary and not all patients will return to the same activity level. The lifetime of any device is limited and depends on several factors like weight and activity level. Your doctor will help counsel you about strategies to potentially prolong the lifetime of the device, including avoiding high-impact activities, such as running, as well as maintaining a healthy weight. Ask your doctor if the GetAroundKnee is right for you.
1. Stryker Test Report: RD-06-078.
2. Stryker Test Report: RD-09-068.
3. Stryker Orthopaedics Restoration ADM X3 28 mm ID acetabular inserts made of X3 Gas Plasma Sterilized UHMWPE, show a 97% reduction in volumetric wear rate versus 28 mm ID Restoration ADM Duration Gamma Radiation Sterilized UHMWPE. Both ADM constructs utilized a 54 mm OD shell and the inserts were approximately 9.9 mm thick. Testing was conducted under multi-axial hip joint simulation for 5 million cycles using a 28 mm CoCr modular femoral head articulating counterface and calf serum lubricant.
Volumetric wear rates were 109.7±6.0 mm3/106 cycles and -1.03 ± 3.8 mm3/106 cycles for Duration and X3 polyethylene insert test samples. Although in-vitro hip wear simulation methods have not been shown to quantitatively predict clinical wear performance, the current model has been able to reproduce correct wear resistance rankings for some materials with documented clinical results. 1-3
 Wang, A, et. al., Tribology International, Vol. 31, No. 1-3: 17-33, 1998.
 Essner, A. et. al., 44th Annual Meeting, ORS, New Orleans, Mar. 16-19, 1998: 774.
 Essner, A. et. al., 47th Annual Meeting, ORS, San Francisco, Feb. 25-28, 2001: 1007.