Update May 24, 2016
I have taught and coached high level skiing for 46 years, the past 8 years on my resurfaced hip. Dr Gross encouraged me to ski on it, and I started skiing at six months post surgery. I have heard of people rarely having trouble with THRs when skiing; dislocations, femoral fractures. I have many friends including instructors, ski patrollers, and students who ski with THRs, and they are advised to stay away from moguls. However, I have never heard of a person having problems from skiing with a resurfacing. I am not sure that pounding icy moguls all day would be a great idea, but that will eventually destroy the rest of your body anyway. For myself, I ski hard 8 hours a day, seven days a week all winter. That includes, heli-skiing, blasting through crud, moguls (preferably softer at age 65), hard carving, and gates. No problem. This past year I fell one time, and that was at about 50 mph landing right on my resurfaced hip on bullet proof ice. Bruised the soft tissue like anyone, but no problem with the resurfacing.The reason that we get resurfacings instead of THRs is so that we can push it in sports like skiing. Following Dr Gross’s advice, I felt good about starting at 6 months, and then building up to heli-skiing, getting air, and skiing bumps at 9 months to a year.
John – A History of Getting Back to Skiing
Left Hip Resurfacing Uncemented Biomet with Dr Gross June 16, 2008
I grew up ski racing, turned pro and competed at a national level in moguls and aerials, and have taught full time in Sun Valley for over 40 years, becoming the top private instructor teaching 8 hours a day for at least 150 days each season. I am a very analytical skier, monitoring what is going on in almost every part of every turn, so I seldom ski instinctively anyway.
I skied with a bad hip for well over ten years, and can relate to everything you said; it would buckle on me, sharp pains, and I would often have to keep most of my weight on my good hip during both turns. Not good.
Resurfacing has been wonderful for me and skiing. Here is a short timeline of how it went:
The first day was a few days before opening of the season. I hiked up the mountain and felt strong all the way up. The first turn was a disaster. I went to put weight on my new hip, did not trust it, and careened all the way across the run with no control over that leg or ski. I stood there for a long time giving myself a pep talk, and proceeded to ski the rest of the way down the mountain without further incident, but not feeling that strong. For what its worth, I told this story to another pro who had his hip done, and despite his best intentions, he had the same experience on those first few turns.
Opening day was an epic powder day, and my six month anniversary from surgery. I started on the beginner hill, and the hip still did not feel that strong or confident, even though I had been working out hard to get ready. After a few runs, I felt more confident, and spent the rest of the day skiing powder and crud from the top, and feeling better all the time. There was no real pain, but lots of little twinges and strange sensations. I normally go heli-skiing in Canada every December, but I postponed it that year until the spring which would make it 10 months. I taught all season, but took a couple of hours off here and there for the first time in 25 years. I even took a whole day off a couple of times which I had not done in 40 years. That first year I felt pretty good except I was very uncomfortable landing even very small airs, and I stayed out of big bumps until the spring. Skating across the flats bothered my cut muscles for about two years. I also felt uncomfortable taking a big step down in ski boots because of the impact; no pain, just not trusting it.
Because I am always analyzing my skiing anyway, I was constantly aware of using the new hip, in terms of weight bearing, angulation, and rotary actions. It was not always easy for the first year or so, but always possible without joint pain issues. The big muscles like the quads came back pretty quick, but the smaller rotators were weak and a little sore and took some training, so I did lots of one legged training drills on the new hip.
Last year was my fourth year back, and I am delighted to say that the new hip is pain free. My only hang up is that I am still psychologically uncomfortable with any hard impacts, like accidentally landing a jump on the flats or on icy bumps. Unfortunately my other hip is starting to act up. It is still the stronger of the two muscle-wise, but is starting to be painful and lose range of motion.
I think that you will be very excited about how you will be able to enjoy skiing again. I also think that you are very wise to start of on some easy groomed slopes, and build your strength and confidence back. Strangely enough, I think that the stronger a skier that you are (i.e. lots of hip angulation and counter, with lots of g forces building up in carved turns), the longer it takes to feel 100% again. High speed runs through big bumps involving lots of impact may or may not be a good idea. Though I used to make a living doing it, I do not see myself doing that again. I still ski bumps, just much more slowly and smoothly. I save the speed for groomers and crud.
July 24, 2013
Just checking in with a happy five year anniversary. For those that are considering resurfacing, or are early in the process, I will give a synopsis of my resurfacing journey.
Over ten years of suffering with arthritis that kept getting worse, resulting in pain with any movement at all, a sever limp, and crippling pain with certain movements.
Tried an arthroscopy, which made it worse for a few months, and then maybe a 20% improvement for a couple of years.
Next tried a stem cell injection which was a disaster, but it did help me make the final decision for a resurfacing because I could not now get around without a cane or crutches.
Surgery with Dr Gross at age 57. Surgery and time in the hospital were a breeze, and almost painless.
The next six weeks were a roller-coaster of mild to moderate pain, swelling, difficulty getting around, slow and uneven progress, and lots of mental gyrations. Finally off crutches at six weeks.
At 8 weeks I started a remodel on the house, being careful not to break any rules.
At 3 months I started slightly more intense training.
At 6 months I started skiing full time (eight hours, seven days a week).
At 1 year I got back into full time windsurfing (high winds and surf).
At 1 year I got back into daily tennis which I had not been able to play in ten years.
Between years 2 and 3 most of the residual aches and pains went away.
At 5 years (I will be 62 in a month) I am active in some kind of sport for 6-8 hours a day, 6-7 days a week, and my hip feels great.
My metal ion numbers have always been low (.5 to 1.4).
The best of it: I never even think about my resurfaced hip when I am involved in my sports. I never have any pain in that hip.
The worst of it: Nothing really. No matter what I do, I cannot seem to get the resurfaced leg to be quite as strong as the other leg, and deep one legged squats still involve some strange sensations. When I am sitting, it sometimes still feels like there is something swollen in the area, either scar tissue or some fluid. Like the rest of me, it is stiff for the first few steps whenever I first get up out of a car or a chair. All in all, nothing to complain about.
There’s my story up to five years. As we all say on this site, everyone’s journey will be different. In my case it has worked out fantastically to this point.
I want to finish by saying a huge thank you to Pat for this site.
Best to all,