Clare Roche started participating in triathlon five years ago, but feared she may have to stop training when sudden pain on a run heralded the start of a hip problem.
Clare, who is in her 60s and lives near Wadhurst, has enjoyed a variety of sports from childhood. More recently she started to compete in triathlons and has represented Great Britain in international competitions.
Out on a run, she developed severe pain and was unable to put weight on her right leg. After hobbling home, things deteriorated quickly.
She was unable to walk comfortably for any length of time and the pain that radiated down the leg into the shin and ankle made sleeping difficult.
Having to cancel her plans for a walking trip to the Himalayas, Clare made an appointment with her GP.
As a physiotherapist with more than 40 years experience she already knew that the problem was related to her hip. When x-rays showed she had no articular cartilage left in the joint, it was clear the only option was a hip replacement.
Apart from her competitive sports, Clare has a very busy family life with three children and an increasing number of grandchildren. She wanted to proceed quickly to prevent her muscle strength from deteriorating too dramatically so decided to go private.
She had witnessed great results in patients and friends following hip surgery performed by Senthil Velayudham, Orthopaedic Hip Surgeon at Nuffield Health, Tunbridge Wells.
Following a consultation with Mr Velayudham, he confirmed a minimally invasive total hip replacement with ceramic on ceramic bearing surfaces was the way forward. A ‘total replacement’ means both parts of the joint are replaced – the ball and the socket.
The operation went well with no complications. For the first 10 days Clare used crutches, after which she walked with a stick. At two-three weeks post surgery she swam regularly and used an exercise bike. Within three-four weeks she walked unaided.
Clare was religious with her exercises at home and in the gym, which helped her regain muscle strength; she is still doing them almost 18 months later.
At around 14 weeks after the operation she was slow jogging and brisk walking. Over the following weeks these exercises increased in duration and intensity. Four months after the operation, Clare went skiing with no problems and after that was soon competing in triathlons once again.
Prior to her operation Clare had gained a place to compete at the Triathlon World Championships. She was worried she wouldn’t be fit enough to compete but at the end of August was on the starting line, less than a year after surgery.
In between competitions Clare enjoys her grandchildren, hiking and bird watching, all of which are only possible with the pain free mobility that her new joint brings.
“Minimally invasive total hip replacement is a highly successful procedure helping patients return to an active lifestyle,” said Mr Velayudham.
“Using appropriate prostheses, restoring hip anatomy, preserving all the muscles controlling the hip and good rehabilitation helps patients to enjoy a long, good outcome following hip replacement.
Clare added: “ Having a surgeon who is not only technically excellent but someone who is empathetic to your situation and provides first-rate pre and post op oversight is crucial.
“Mr Velayudham more than fulfilled these criteria – as I knew he would having seen several of his patients over the years.
“Also impressive was the care I received at the Nuffield at all levels, from porters to senior medical staff. Everyone was attentive, professional yet caring. The food was something special too.
“My advice to anyone who wants to get the most out of their joint replacement is firstly don’t leave it too long before having the operation and secondly try to choose a great surgeon like Mr V.
“Finally, be serious and committed about exercises and general fitness both before your operation and for at least 12 month afterwards. We can all do more than we think we can!”
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