Ken Kuipers’ hip pain started in 2006. At first, the 51-year-old Platte
farmer tried to tough it out.
Even though a couple doctors recommended hip replacement, Kuipers wasn’t ready
to give in.
"I wanted to keep my own joint as long as possible," he says.
Doctors told him he could try cortisone injections, but Kuipers ruled that out
because the shots were expensive and provided temporary relief. He needed to
keep up with his animals and field work, so when the pain didn’t ease up, Dr.
Matthew McKenzie, orthopedic surgeon at the Orthopedic Institute, offered
Kuipers was a perfect candidate for hip resurfacing, McKenzie says. People who
are active, younger than 65 and have normal bone tissues have the best chance
for success with the procedure, he says.
Doctors also consider the expected life span of the patient before deciding on
the type of surgery performed. Hip replacements don’t last forever.
"There is about a 20 percent failure rate in 25 years, depending on what study
you’re looking at," McKenzie says.
He has done the resurfacing procedure for about nine months, something that
Orthopedic Institute added because patients were going out of town to have the
surgery, he says.
A hip resurfacing procedure has the same goal as a standard total hip: Pain
alleviation. Contrary to popular belief and Internet promises, the procedure is
not less invasive or expensive nor does it mean a shorter recovery time.
With hip resurfacing, Kuipers faces six weeks of healing, the same time a total
hip replacement would have taken. The newer surgery is not cheaper because new
technology always costs more, McKenzie says.
The main reason to have a hip resurfacing is because it means less bone removal.
"If it fails, you can revise it to a standard total hip," he says. "Anything to
save bone is the right thing to do."
During a hip resurfacing procedure, the ball of the hip is machined down, a
metal cap is fitted over it and a short anchoring spike is driven down the
femur. The neck of the femur is preserved as well as much of the ball. The
position of the implant and the patient’s muscles hold the hip in place.
In a traditional hip replacement, the entire ball and joint is removed and
replaced with an artificial joint, and a long rod is placed in the femur.
Kuipers’ incision is 10 inches long, that compared with a hip replacement that
is typically half that or less.
He was in the hospital for several days. He had the surgery on a Wednesday and
went home Saturday. He had two physical therapy sessions on Thursday and Friday
while in the hospital, says his wife, Donna. They taught him stretching and
strengthening exercises to do at home.
He’s using a walker right now.
"I’m just about ready to switch to a cane," he says.
The pain is better but different, he says. It’s surgical pain from the muscles
being cut. And he still needs pain pills to sleep.
At two weeks post-op, he had his first office visit where his staples were
removed and his incision was looked over. Healing is progressing, and McKenzie
gave permission to increase activity as tolerated.
"I was given the go ahead to get on a tractor," Kuipers says.That’s exactly what
he plans to do as soon as it dries out enough to get in the fields.