Hip Replacement, Recovery and the yoga of healing

This page will be the very opposite of cool, so if that’s the sort of yoga you’re


English: Hip replacement using cementless impl...

English: Hip replacement using cementless implants. 16 days post-surgery. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


seeking, I’m going to save you some time and encourage you to surf on. No hard feelings.

Hip replacements involve walkers and drains and quite often severe limitations, and having had one just prior to my 43rd birthday, I can tell you they feel the subterranean opposite of cool.

But like so many other things in life, the  truth is that while the process is tedious, the problem solved painful and deeply limiting, and the daily recovery mundane and filled with potential frustration, the result and even the path leading to it are cooler than cool, the stratospheric pinnacle of awesomeness.

During the process – the bits leading up to the surgery (a right total hip replacement), the pain and shame and self-blame (I know, what a crock, right?), the fear of all the what-ifs leading into a surgery (a paramedic knows far too much about what might go wrong and how ugly it might be), the recovery (avec le walker, complete with yellow tennis balls), the limitation and then the daunting task of regaining new optimal functioning, I wanted to write, I considered writing, I wrote in my head and in my journal, but I didn’t cross the threshold of public sharing, my blog. Part acceding to shame monsters and part simple self-protection during a time of deep vulnerability, I kept this part to myself – mostly. I did publish a reflection on imperfection and what it means for teachers, probably more revelatory than I’d like, but there all the same. And a few bits and pieces.

Now I’d like to share what I learned about disability, surgery, recovery, hips and yoga in the process.  The overarching message my soul was sending me had to do with challenges and their meaning, ability and self-concept and how stories can heal or hurt depending on how stuck inside us they get.

Here are some facts: I was born with a mild birth defect of my hip joints that made them susceptible to injury, even after the best treatment available in the late 60’s and early 70’s in the US. As a result, in combination with a desperate need for self-mastery born of other unhappy events, I sustained two (yes, I learn slowly) stress fractures of the femoral shaft and neck setting me up for degenerative joint disease. Docs at the time of the first injury told me to stop running (it was my religion at the time) and that I would need a hip replacement by the time I was 30. Figuring I might as well as smoke it while I got it, I kept running and weight lifting like the competitive madwoman I can be, hence the second injury.

Over the past 5 years the pain in my hip from lack of cartilage and bones grinding one another down had led to a pronounced limp, postural imbalance and worst of all, inability to hike or walk very far. Miserable in this one respect, I kept hopping out of ambulances (gingerly, impact was a bitch), practicing and teaching  yoga and avoiding the hip replacement. Maybe I could heal myself. Maybe I could make it one more year. Maybe I couldn’t get pregnant after a hip replacement (turns out, easier because less inflammation in the body). Maybe… I was scared. Scared to go forward, scared to stay put, couldn’t go back. Back to what?

Turns out, I had no idea what it felt like to have a properly working joint. When we moved temoprarily to Silicon Valley for Dear Hubs’ career, my plan was to write and teach. My plan was side-tracked when I was put in contact with a surgeon who was not only wise and kind, but performs the procedure in a way that obviates hip precautions. That’s right: no limitation post recovery. Think about that.

It didn’t take me long to think about it. Having worked hip dislocations enough as a paramedic that I could do it in my sleep, I knew all too well what awaited me in terms not only of limitation, but of consequence regardless of how careful I might be. Some of my patients’ hips dislocated when they stepped from a sidewalk to the grass. A procedure that avoided this? Sign me up!

That didn’t take away the fear prior to surgery: I’d also transported people whose joint appliances had gone wrong somehow – there are myriad ways, as it turns out. I knew of hip sockets gone empty and bodies confined to bed for lack of skeletal support when the implant had to be removed. I had witnessed the surgery when intubating in the OR and knew they would saw off the top of my leg bone, bore it to make way for a 7 inch metal spike and screw a cup into my pelvis. None of that sounded fun.

The anterior approach that Dr. Kliman in Palto Alto used left me feeling like I’d been kicked in the upper quad for about 9 months, but also means they don’t sever a single muscle or disrupt the joint capsule. Translation? Essentially the same risk of dislocation that I had before. I could do yoga, ski, dance, hike, cross my legs and anything else I wanted with abandon. Once I’d recovered.

Even in the weeks leading up to the replacement I was exercising about 2 hours a day, when you include dog walks, yoga and gym visits. Because the quadriceps muscles are stretched quite to their limits for joint access, the post surgery window requires nearly total rest so that the muscles can recover and regain their functional shape. Clearly you don’t want to be abed the entire time – the body would seize up. But my limit was around the block with a walker for nearly a month. Then two, three… up to five blocks. For a full three months, no yoga asana, no weights, no craziness, no abandon. Two miles were my max limit. And even swimming was verboten until the scar had fully healed. I was a basket case. And not a well-woven one.

When the three month mark hit, I was ecstatic… then deflated. Turns out, my hip had been so non-conformist from the very beginning that having an anatomically “correct” appliance in there was a wholly different experience. It was wonderful – riding bikes made sense for the very first time in my life! – and my muscles had to re-learn everything. Add to that a degradation in my sense of balance, an inability to lead up stairs with my right leg and feeling like I was learning to live again. I was re-weaving my basket.

As I write this, my surgery was 1 year, 1 week and 3 days ago. I’ve had my first year surveillance X-ray and all is hunky dory. I can lead up stairs with my right leg, my balance is restored, I can walk – I revel in walking and hiking – miles without pain.

I do not run, jog, do plyometrics (jumping exercises), carry a heavy pack or do anything that could wear my appliance out more quickly than regular living. I can do Sun Salutations with ease again (that just happened a couple of months ago) and understand so much more the yoga of pain, of limitation and of modification. I will never tell another yogi that what feels aligned in their own body is not aligned because it’s not symmetrical to my eye. I will never push a student’s limb into the place that looks right to me. I listen deeply to what my students tell me feels right in their bodies and invite them to explore alternatives, or sometimes to simply go deeper into where they are.

It turns out my limitation was a great gift, but one I had to struggle with mightily until I wore myself out enough to listen to what it was teaching. I still listen and am still learning from the experience. I enjoy more rest now than ever before in my life. I care less about deadlines, consequences and what other people think. I care more about the integrity of movement, work, meaning and expression and know that these win out every time.

I’ll write more about modifications, asana, practices and meditations that helped me and arose from this experience. They all come down to this: be still, even with pain. Pain really doesn’t entail suffering; we can make suffering without pain and skip suffering with pain. In the stillness, listen. Listen into sensation, past judgement (your own), past fear and trust what comes to you. Even when it seems simple. Too simple. Just follow the inner teacher.

Related articles

32 thoughts on “Hip Replacement, Recovery and the yoga of healing

  1. YILT, wow. What an amazing piece of writing-you are an inspiration. I must ask, how is your left hip doing? After my first replacement-an anterior approach, my left-I found that the right hip began descending into a very special agony, even worse than the left had been.
    Thus, the second, right hip replacement March 14th of this year with a new surgeon-my initial orthopedist moved to Florida, for God’s sake! Unfortunately, this surgeon cut through the fascia (he used a different approach from the side) and the pain is still haunting me. He claims 1/3rd of his patients experience this for around one year post-surgery. Damn.
    How I wish I’d read this blog of yours before the second op. I don’t practice Yoga, but am now open to this, thanks to your writing. I hope there is Yoga instruction here in my small town-Bishop, Ca., pop. 3,500. I’ll be sure to seek it out.
    Great stuff!

    • Hi Laurel, thanks for leaving your experience too – until recently I didn’t know how many possible approaches there actaully are! My left hip may eventually need replacement, and I sometimes feel the twinge of bone pain, but it’s far from worn out right now. I’ll know so much more about what to look for when that time comes! Have you tried yoga? There are great online resources, though an in person teacher would be so great for you right now! Has the pain changed since your writing? Sending metta, Christine

  2. Thanks for your thoughts. I’m struggling with whether or not to proceed with a hip replacement as well. I teach yoga, dance and conditioning, so months of inactivity scare the hell out of me (not to mention being without an income from teaching). Have tried everything else and feel there are really no other options left. Your story gives me hope. Can you do all the asanas with abandon or do you have limitations? Peace.

  3. Hi Kaitleigh, I’ve often said that if I had to do it over again, I’d do it earlier, and that I waited too long. The key, as you can see from reading Laurel’s comment, is to really know your surgeon and what they plan. I only know Dr. Kliman in Palo Alto, and from what I’ve learned here in Albuquerque I would actually fly back to have him do the second, when the time comes.

    YES! I can do all my activities without limitation and abandon. I taught pigeon last evening 🙂 The three months after surgery while the muscle is re-modeling and the bones are knitting are a special kind of torment for active people like you and me, but also taught me so much about rest and my body. I hadn’t spent that kind of time and attention studying my body at rest and it was a gift.

    I’m still working back into my more advanced inversions and arm balances; while you can do upper body work, you can’t do it from any position that loads the pelvis and femur, so for instance walking up to headstand from down dog is right out. Honestly, though, my perspective on the more advanced postures has changed so drastically that I’m not minding the time in more “basic” postures one tiny bit. I’m so ecstatic about my ability to move without pain, walking feels miraculous still. I’ve learned so much about sensing from the inside out that I’m aware of so much more in every Warrior and every Siddhasana.

    I can ski, do Hanumanasana, cross and uncross my legs with perfect abandon – Eagle, Supta Virasana, Natarajasana, Bow, Upward Bow… on and on.

    Given it to do over (ha :)) I’d do it five years earlier.

    Sending metta – keep me posted on how you are!

    • Wow! That totally gives me reason to hope for complete recovery. I read that some of the poses you mentioned were going to be gone forever to me. That is great that they can still be part of yoga for me. Did you do a lot of
      physical therapy? Since I work in a gym, I can do therapy all day long. Thanks for the good news. Will let you know what I finally decide and when. Blessings. Kat

      • Hi Kaitleigh! I’m so glad 🙂

        I didn’t do PT, past what they give you prior to hospital release. I was out of bed within 2 hours of coming out of anesthesia and home in under 48 hours. They taught me to use the walker and how to navigate stairs.

        Dr K was adamant about the 3 months of relative inactivity (not what he called it, but what it was for me) and emphasized easy walking. I had contractures of muscles around the joint and had developed a pronounced limp prior to surgery. The contractures released and my gait normalized without PT. When the 3 months were up, I got a trainer for a couple of months to help me equalize strength and break old patterns. I biked a lot (got addicted to spin classes :)) and hiked a lot. Got back to my beloved yoga 🙂

        Blessings on all our heads! cs

      • That sounds like a plan! Just a couple of quick additional questions, if you don’t mind. How old were you when symptoms appeared, how old when you had therapy. Do you know the kind of appliance used? How many classes a week are you able to teach?
        I am really trying to do my homework before a single cut! LOL. Thanks, Christine for all your help and your experience.

      • Hi Kaitleigh! Good job with the homework!!! The absolute most important thing is to be an informed patient. How did you come to have this in your life? Here’s my story:

        I was born with legs so deformed I wouldn’t have been able to walk except that both legs were casted and re-set every two weeks from waist to toes (bow legged, pigeon toed; the hip sockets also didn’t form correctly). The casts were on at 6 weeks and off just before I was 2. From there, a metal brace from hips to toes at night til i was 5. Corrective shoes thereafter.

        My first stress fracture was at 17, second at 24. In my 30s I began to really notice the pain, but it didn’t limit me til my late 30s, and even then I pushed through a lot and modified where necessary. By my early 40s I had so many bone cysts (micro-fractures that sunovial fluid leaks into and begins to exacerbate) in my femoral head and acetabulum some doctors were shocked I was walking. My joint was deformed enough by the damage that my gait was altered and my leg was laterally displaced so that my Warrior I stance was wider than if the joint allowed the leg to come directly to the ground. (yoga teachers, even some >ahem< really famous "therapists" tried to force my leg "into (their) alignment" even after learning of the situation. Barg!)

        I had PT after both stress fractures. I learned to walk in the casts without therapy. I started "doing" yoga when I was 3 with my Mom, so it's always been there. I never found a yoga therapist who was helpful.

        I have a DePuy titanium appliance with a polyethylene plastic buffer. I looked at the failure lawsuits and they don't apply to this appliance. I looked into ceramic, but there's a risk of "spontaneous failure" (which means the head of the appliance explodes for no apparent reason!) and squeaking (!!). The polyethylene buffer can be replaced without disturbing the appliance and absorbs the majority of wear and tear. There are no guarantees, but we're hoping with some luck for 40 years out of this appliance.

        I'm currently teaching 2 classes/ week but practice daily. I also write, sell sterling jewelry and lead a chart review team for paramedics, so I'm not relying on my yoga teaching for support. I don't think there'd be a limit to how many I could teach just based on the appliance. I've taught as many as 7 before and there's no physical reason for me not to now. In fact, I feel better now than I did then!

  4. Christine,
    I’m so grateful to you right now. I’m a yoga teacher (former soccer player) who needs a hip replacement. I had surgery 2 years ago for a torn labrum (they also microfractured the pelvis to try and get soft tissue to grow, which was as fun as it sounds.) Well, they say the universe keeps handing you lessons until you learn them. Post surgery, I was horrible at admitting I needed rest, acted like little was wrong, and dug a deeper hole (literally in my bones!) than I originally had. Showing this vulnerability was so hard for me.

    You articulated the embarrassment I’ve experienced around my students and the doubt I have about my personal practice perfectly. How dare I teach this yoga I can’t even practice at the moment and tout it’s benefits when I hurt while practicing? Am I a fraud? yada yada yada.

    I think reading your blog is lifting me off that hook. Thank you.

    I’m also appreciative of all the wonderful questions Katleigh and Laurel asked and for you taking the time to give thoughtful answers. I wasn’t sure if I could go back to teaching. And letting go of yoga after having let go of soccer was really making me sad. I know- clinging. Much to work through there.

    I will say what I did take away from my last injury was a better understanding of anatomy and more disciplined alignment. This I can share with students. Again, reading your blog reminded me I will learn from this experience, too.

    Ok- finally to my question. I’ve been doing my research and I keep reading about hip dislocations post surgery. I actually saw this happen to someone and I DO NOT want to go through that! I can forsee my post surgery practice being built on a mound of fear. Is this something you had to work through? If so, any suggestions?

    with deep gratitude,

    • Dear Emily,
      Thanks for writing. Your comment brought tears to my eyes. I am so glad you’re lifting!
      The idea that practicing yoga well will prevent and miraculously reverse all physical pain is such a harmful one because it can alienate us from practice when we need it most. When I couldn’t practice asana in the days after surgery, I meditated, practiced pranayam and even attended to my alignment while lying in the hospital bed. We can always practice, if only we can find a way and the support to be compassionate toward our experience. I’m so thankful to meet you – it sounds like we have some things in common.

      The procedure that I had – anterior approach to hip replacement – doesn’t cut any muscle or the joint capsule, as the posterior (usually practiced) approach does. Depending on where you live it can be difficult to find a surgeon who does this (evidently it also requires different equipment), but I can tell you I will travel to find it if I have to have the left side done. I share your aversion to having a dislocation! I’m a paramedic and have worked my share of those. The risk of dislocation comes because in the posterior approach major muscles as well as the joint capsule are severed. Even after healing, the muscles and capsule are susceptible where they were cut and healed. In the anterior approach, they go in by stretching your muscles (almost like you’re giving birth – hurts like a mo’fo’ for a while, but still not as bad as it did before the surgery) without cutting them. The joint capsule isn’t cut. With the right appliance, risk of dislocation is the same as before surgery – so, nil! Recovery is a bitch for active types like us, because remodeling of the muscle requires a great deal of inactivity (three long months). My surgeon at one point suggested a bottle of wine and television. I think he exasperatedly said “Don’t you watch TV?” after I asked whether I could go kayaking for my 43rd birthday (about 5 weeks after the surgery).

      With all that said… am I ever afraid? Yes. I think about it nearly every practice. I no longer go for crazy deep “hip opening” (that’s a whole post all by itself). I go for hip health. I’m careful not to bump up against bone (never a good idea) and to respect the connective tissue. I’m no longer interested in compass pose eka-pada-sirsasana (truthfully, I never was ;>). I’m respectful of my sensations and am more compassionate toward my experience. For the first several months, I never practiced without my cell within reach (I never used it). I’ll never forget the first time I attempted pigeon pose! I had to instruct myself to breathe. I was so terrified. But I knew I would have to approach it to know if I ever could again. My cell was on the mat. I do pigeon at least once a week now. Even with all the “what-if”s and “oh my god”s, somewhere inside the practice my worry brain fades into the background and I’m just practicing. My practice. The practice that fits this body. With a big ol’ chunk of titanium in one hip. Fear fades. Practice wins out over time.

      I started with Anjalanasa instead of Warrior one, so I could control the degree of stretch in the front of the back thigh. As I got braver and more comfortable, I lifted my back thigh higher and higher and finally put my rear foot down. All was well. I’ve been careful as I added each pose back. It was 11 months before I was all the way back to Sun Salutations, and about 18 months before I did jumps (which I don’t do often). I’m crazy careful about how much I jump and carry – I know this hip has a long life to be at the core of (I’m currently 44). It was a factor in my decision to stop working as a paramedic (there’s a lot of carrying and not a little jumping involved.) But this is from care and decisiveness, not fear. I’m learning how to be careful with myself without being frightened or defended. That has been a long time coming. I’m learning how to set caring boundaries without feeling apologetic or defensive. That’s been my greatest lesson, perhaps.

      The students I attract these days have tight quads (maybe that’s everyone?) and I have a few with significant challenges. I’m honored to have the experience to be able to serve them. I’m a very back-to-the-basics teacher. But maybe that’s the paramedic in me, too – we always say that EMTs save Paramedics. Paramedics get all caught up in the cool tricks and toys (esp at first). Basics have to focus on simple things because that’s where their training is. It’s also, honestly, what saves most lives. Your Basic partner will remember airway positioning, while you’re preparing for your tube. A mature medic remembers this. I guess the surgery has helped me become a more mature yoga practitioner and teacher. I care more about how a student feels in Warriors and Down Dogs and Cobras than whether they’ll ever execute a complicated arm balance. And there are poses I actually warn against. But that’s another post 🙂

      • Christine,
        Thank you for the sound advice. I live in the DC area so I have quite a few options for Anterior Hip Replacement surgeons. I’ve made 2 appointments and will go from there. I’m going to look at this time as a sabbatical. A chance to heal, rest and explore non-physical interests. It will be the intention I’ll need to set daily, I’m sure.

        I love the idea of changing your mindset from “hip openers” to “hip health”. I’ve already shared it with someone else.

        I’ve been giving it a lot of thought and I know the soccer caused the damage. I don’t think the yoga did, but I do think the teaching might have. Just like playing a game you get in a zone and don’t realize until you are done that there is pain. I was able to be much more mindful during my own practice.

        What style of yoga where you practicing and teaching before? Now? I had a power yoga practice about 5 years ago and switched to a vinyasa practice that went back to alignment and the basics. It kept my ego in check when I took the “tricks” out of the game. Which ultimately made it a more challenging yoga practice for me.

        So thank you again, I’ll be in touch as I move through this journey.

  5. Wow, Christine… What a journey…
    Pain can be a remarkable teacher and bring about the most extraordinary compassion.
    An excellent read!
    (I also think it was super cool 🙂

  6. Thank you so very much for this information and post! My Mom is going to get a hip replacement and I have begun to study how it will affect her! THANK YOU for helping me.

  7. Dear Christine,

    I appreciate your story very much. I read it and felt the first bit of “fear relief” I’ve experienced since I learned (one week ago) about having severe osteoarthritis in my right hip.

    About seven years ago I was mountain climbing in the high mountains of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of Colorado. After my second 14.000-foot summit, I decided to down climb a 48-degree slope in the middle of the two mountains with an ice axe. It was noon and the snow on the steep couloir was similar in texture to a 7-11 slushy. I was descending carefully when before I even knew what had happened, my boot lost its footing. I slipped, and soon was careening down Kirk Couloir head first on my back. I imagined my son loosing his only parent, and I accepted there was no way to self-arrest. All I could control was keeping my arm far from my face, as the hand at the end of it was gripping a very sharp, face unfriendly ice axe.

    Unbelievably and inexplicably, my body did not follow the straight line down to the rocks. I took the uncharted course sideways to a heap of rocks. My right hip took the honors of hitting numerous times before I settled like a big loaf of bread into a two-foot pocket where the snow was melted just short of meeting up with the cliffs on the side of the chute.

    I crawled onto the dry rocks and cried for no more than 10 seconds. In the middle of nowhere, crying is extremely counterproductive. I had to get back on the couloir and climb down to pack my tent (a mile below) and then hike down the long trail to my car (5 miles below the tent). I was bleeding and suspected my back was broken, but adrenaline and shock carried me down.

    Long story short, I made it back to Grand Junction, where I was living at the time, and drove directly to my doctor’s office where she surmised that I had lacerated my liver, but felt nothing was broken. I stayed in bed healing for a week. After that week, I went right back to teaching spinning and body sculpt classes, and went right back to running and hiking. That was seven years ago.

    Fast forward to last year when insidiously the pain began. As a former exercise physiologist and fitness instructor, I felt the pain and thought I had muscle imbalances and tightness. It never occurred to me I had arthritis in my right hip.

    By Spring of this year I made the decision to attend an intensive yoga teacher training while my son would be off on a 22 day Outward Bound Adventure in the hills of North Carolina. Surely, I thought, teacher training would release my contracted muscles while simultaneously fulfilling a dream I have had for ages and ages to teach yoga. The course was beautiful, but my pain was unbearable. Every day was filled with hours of classroom lessons as well as hours of yoga instruction. And each night I let my chance of sleep escape hour after hour as I sought an acceptable position that could offer less pain. A heating pad on my low back or groin area, tears in my eyes, and excruciating pain were my company through the long, lonely hours of darkness.

    A week after training came to a close I placed a call to my friend, Joanie, a chiropractor. We met at her office the next day. Upon her urging, I drove to an imaging center and had a sacral and hip MRI. The results stunned me – the menu offered up severe osteoarthritis with side dishes of bone spurs and cysts and edema.

    My next stop is a surgeon, and I can’t stop feeling my life as an athlete is over. I am an emotional basket case, literally depressed. I rarely write to anyone on the Internet, but your letter gave me some hope that I can rediscover and love my hip again one day. And maybe even teach yoga.

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart,


    • Hallie, Thank you so much for telling your story here, too! Please keep me posted on your progress. YES!!! You will still be an athlete and a yogi, and hip love is not only possible, but probable and necessary – your hip may have saved your very life and your son’s only parent! Love it even more! I know it’s hard when you’re in pain, believe me I remember. But you’re alive to feel it, and it has things it’s whispering to you. LIsten – this will make you such a special yoga teacher. So happy to meet you here! Thank you again – your writing is riveting!

    • LeT me reassure you that your life as an athlete is not over. Time to heal is definitely required. I am nine months out from hip replacement and back to teaching yoga and dance. Just finished my 200RYT . It takes time, but know the things you want to do and go do them. I too dont plan to run or do plyometrics anymore so as
      to preserve my inplant, but there are sooooo many things I can do instead. That is what I focus on, and it is enough.

      Good luck! Let us hear how you heal. Blessings.

  8. Christine,
    It’s Emily checking in again (from last April). My hip replacement is scheduled for the end of January. Anterior approach. 🙂
    I kept hearing from many doctors that at 41 I should put it off. But my body decided it could wait no longer and my mind came to the realization that my life and ability to move is no less valuable today than 20 years from now. I’m so looking forward to walking pain free in 2014.
    Thanks again for your original post. I also read your “walking crow” post. I just wanted to let you know that when you are called to write about your recovery: suggestions,challenges and triumphs, I find they bring me hope. Thank you and happy NEW year!

    • Hi Emily! Thanks for commenting – sorry I missed this!!! How’d it go?? How are you now?

      I’m so glad you went for it – I completely understand and empathize with your reasoning, had much the same.

      Hope you’re doing great! My fingers are crossed we get to read your update!

  9. Hi ! Not to sure what to think. I’m 39 and had a total hip replacement 4 weeks ago now, and I’m so wishing I had not got it done. I was only in hospital for 3 days, and back in the gym after 2 weeks and 4 days, only doing upper body training but now on the bike and light leg machines.I’m off crutches now and into 1 stick. I just don’t know if I’m doing ok or not. I keep trying to walk without the stick, but I limp really bad. I’m just frustrated and so want to get back to work ( ceramic tiler ). Also I’ve been getting some bad pain in my other hip, but I’m trying to stop all pain killers, maybe twice a day if needed. But think they are rubbish anyway. But I think the worst is sleeping ! Or lack if it. God don’t I moan. Think I’ll end this here. Good luck everyone 🙂

    • Should of said really, 7th April 2014 was my operation date. Guess I should wait a little longer. But what can I say, MAN !!! So not the best at waiting

      • Hi Sam! It sounds like you’re doing greatly! Did you get anterior or posterior? I was still using a walker until 6 weeks out, and my surgeon greatly encouraged this. At one point he actually said something like, “Do you own a T.V.? Do you drink wine?” The message was clear – cool your heels, Girl! I now have (and have had for almost 2 years now) a full yoga practice, hiking wherever I want, skiing. IT’S WORTH IT! You’re doing great! I was soooo impatient, so I understand, it does suck! But like I said, it’s worth it.

        Take it slowly I started having pain in my other hip (which I knew would require replacement at some point) last year – so I’m hoping I’m 5 years out from that. Sometimes if the other hip is less bad than the hip that was fixed, fixing the ‘worse’ one puts pressure on the ‘better’ one showing up its limitations. (Check with your doc before trying anything new!)

        [Edited]: For the non-surgical side or after your doctor has given you the ok (not for posterior replacement side in most cases): Try Crow Walking (on your back, bend your knees, feet on floor about twice as wide (or whatever is tolerable) than your hips. Inhale at center, exhale drop your left knee keeping your right knee up. Inhale back up, exhale right knee down. Keep alternating with the breath for 5-10 rounds. And toe tapping: on your back legs outstretched, internally rotate both upper legs, bringing your big toes together. Externally rotate so your toes point out. Alternate back and forth 5-25 times. Check with your doctor first. Strengthen your glutes equally on both sides. Let us know how you’re progressing! Wishing you all the best! You’re really rocking it for 4 weeks out!

      • Hi Christine. Had to look it up ! posterior was the way for me 🙂 nasty looking train track running down my hip. Thank you you getting back to me, you are the first person who has had the same and who has talked to me. I thought I was doing rubbish. Trying to take things easy but I can’t sit still. Had Pertheys as a child so spent months at a time in hospital on traction. So always on the move now. I’ll try the new exercises and let you know how I get on. I had two physio sessions now and see my surgeon for the first time since the operation on the 23 ! So hoping I’ll be off the stick then too. Hoping !

      • Hey Sam! The first stretch above won’t be right for you after a posterior approach, so avoid it – you’re not supposed to do internal rotation, I believe, but like I said, check with your doc or physio. You might be able to do it with the non-surgical side, though, and I found it helped tremendously leading up to the replacement.

        I did a lot of writing and watched every old episode of “Ally McBeal” that I missed in the 90s 🙂 Keep checking back here or check in at my new website badlandsyoga.com. The first 3 months were the toughest – when the incision healed swimming and hot tubbing became my mental health lifelines. Then hiking with those nordic walking poles – I found that anything on just one side made it worse.

        I’m not familiar with the condition you had; is it part of why you needed the replacement? Keep in touch! I’ll look forward to hearing how you’re doing!

  10. I am really glad I ran across your blog. I am currently in a yoga teacher training which ends in November. Being misdiagnosed since my pain started in my leg and then my back it has taken me 2 years to find out that I have a labral tear in my hip but that the only way for me to be pain free again is to have a hip replacement due to the amount of damage. I am 32 years old. Over the last 6 years I have completely transformed myself. I lost a lot of weight and got really big into fitness. Competed in Olympic Weightlifting, Crossfit and Running not realizing I was tearing myself apart. I am currently seeing a couple surgeons to get some different opinions. They are not in a hurry to do the surgery since I am so young. I just tried my first cortisone shot which has not worked and they had tremendous difficulty trying to get into my joint. As a nurse I almost lost my job last year and now it takes all my body has just to go to work. I am scared but this journey has helped me grow. I now know what it is like to be a patient. To have doctor not believe you and tell you pretty much your life is over. I am only lucky my determination has pushed me through. No doubt it has been a struggle but that is the journey. Thank you for sharing your story! 🙂

    “Pain is a relatively objective, physical phenomenon; suffering is our psychological resistance to what happens. Events may create physical pain, but they do not in themselves create suffering. Resistance creates suffering. Stress happens when your mind resists what is… The only problem in your life is your mind’s resistance to life as it unfolds. ”

    ― Dan Millman

    • Wow, Kimberly, thanks for sharing your incredible story and perspective! Keep me updated. The anterior approach was the perfect thing for me, being so active. My doctors also wanted me to wait as long as possible, since I was in my early 40s. I felt so much better after it was over that I wish I’d done it a little sooner, but it’s a very, very personal decision. One thing I know: life is NOT over! I’m about to leave for our second hike of the day with our new huskie dog, John Denver 🙂 I blog these days on my website: http://www.badlandsyoga.com/notes-from-the-mat and I’ll be doing some hip related stuff coming up. So good to be in touch with you!

  11. Hello Christine and you fellow “hipsters”. I just wanted to follow up with my post-op story. I had my anterior hip replacement in January and wish I had done it a long time ago. I’m 41, a yoga instructor and former competitive athlete. I lived with a lot of pain and and fear of never feeling better not being able to resume my professional life post-op. There was also a weird level of shame that came with having such an injury as a yoga teacher which Christine helped me let go of. See my message above. (Deep bow of gratitude to Christine!)
    Just as everybody (and doctor) is different, my recovery was different than Christine’s. It was right for me, but again you need to find out from your doctor and and PT. I went home the same day of the surgery. It sounds crazy but it really was fine. My insurance sent a nurse in weekly and a PT 3 times a week. My husband and kids helped me out. So I was very lucky.
    The muscles surrounding the bad hip were in pain for about 6 weeks post-op. Suddenly around that time, it all seemed to go away. It is not unusual for you to walk with a limp for 6 months or more and have the feeling one leg is longer than another. My doctor insisted that I don’t put in a lift so they can even out. And for the most part, they have. Lower back pain in the beginning wasn’t unusual due to this “unevenness”.
    I took 3.5 months off of yoga completely. Getting back on my mat was where my wonderful PT came into play. We went through the basic poses (she knows yoga) and talked about (and visualized) how the femur sits in the joint in each pose, how to modify, and how to support the joint and avoid any extreme positioning. All of this has made me a much better teacher and smarter yogi. I gradually started adding 1 teaching class at a time at 4.5 months and was cleared by my doctor at 6 months to do whatever I wanted on the mat. Next month (8 months out, I’ll be teaching my full schedule again) I’m not a super flexible yogi so there was never any touching my toes to the back of my head in the first place so my “extreme” poses might not seem extreme to others. Again, work it out with your doctor and PT. But for God’s sake, give yourself the time to rest and heal!!!!! Patience is your new practice.
    The final thing I will offer up is that I know a replacement is coming on the second hip. I’m not rushing into anything but I sure won’t live with the pain I had the next go around. So I started to think about how I will know it is the right time? I came up with these questions and thought they might help:
    – Is injury taking over my life? Are most of the decisions I’m making based on this injury? (Drive everywhere instead of when I would usually walk, spending most of my free time and money seeing PTs, chiropractors, massage therapists, hypnotherapists trying to relive the pain) If I get into that territory the time has come.
    -Have I saved the money I need to get by for several months without working? Luckily I live at a boarding school so I have a roof over my head and food on the table. Interestingly enough I spent a lot less money during recovery. I don’t know why but I never felt broke.
    – Do I have a support system lined up to help me the first week or so?
    Finally I want to give a shout out to the people that helped heal me. Nitan Goyal, MD was my doctor out of the Anderson Clinic in Northern VA and Jolene Walsh was my PT at CoreWellness in Alexandria, VA.
    And finally another thanks to Christine for starting this conversation and giving us a forum to learn.

    • Hi Emily! Thanks so much for sharing your follow up- what a great story!

      Yes, every recovery is different, but so far everyone I’ve had contact with echoes the same tune: “wish I had done it a long time ago.”

      I LOVE that your PT helped you explore the poses from the inside out! Would you be willing to write a guest post over at my new blog (“Notes from the mat”) about what you learned during those sessions? One, of course, linking back to your website.

      I also love the questions that you came up with – those are my same considerations for my second hip – esp the first one: “Are most of the decisions I’m making based on this injury?”

      I’m so glad to have had any part in the conversation of your decision and recovery! Keep the updates coming!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s