Nancy Hardiman likes to walk. She likes to walk along the ocean-side trails around Kennebunkport, Maine. She loves hiking through the woods near her camp in New Hampshire's White Mountains, watching for birds, moose and deer.
But in early 2001, walking had become an agony rather than a pleasure for the North Reading mother of four, who was 58 years old at the time. "I was hobbling like somebody who was 90," she remembered.
After putting up with growing discomfort and pain for years, she knew she had to take action.
Finding the solution
Hardiman's primary health care doctor referred her to William Doherty, MD, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon who performs joint replacements at Melrose-Wakefield (MWH) and Lawrence Memorial Hospitals (LMH).
When Dr. Doherty showed her the X-rays that displayed severe damage to her left hip, Hardiman remembers being "kind of shocked." Dr. Doherty discussed her options and told her a total hip replacement would be the best way to relieve her pain.
"There really wasn't much to think about," recalled Hardiman. "I was in pain and couldn't wait for the surgery."
Reducing risk and infection with hip and knee replacements
For more than 30 years, surgeons at MWH and LMH have been performing hip and knee replacements. Both hospitals have excellent track records of surgical success and patient satisfaction.
"We have many years of experience and are proactive in reducing risks," said Dr. Doherty. "Antibiotics are routinely given before surgery to reduce the chance of infection, and blood-thinning agents are used to lower the likelihood of blood clots."
"Significant advances in the use of general anesthesia and the use of regional nerve blocks reduce the amount of general anesthetic needed during the operation and deliver effective pain relief for hours afterwards," explained Dr. Doherty.
In 12 years of practice, Dr. Doherty has seen many improvements in the design and technology of knee and hip implants. For example, better manufacturing and storage techniques have reduced the degeneration of the plastic linings - a problem in some earlier prostheses.
Younger, more active patients benefit
"We're seeing younger people who would be candidates for knee and hip replacements," said Dr. Doherty. "As people expect to be vigorous and active later in life, they are less willing to put up with limitations imposed by painful joints." His patients want to work, walk, play golf, and live active lives.
Back at work
Hardiman had the two-hour hip replacement operation at Melrose-Wakefield Hospital. After a five-day hospital stay and three months of outpatient rehabilitation, she was back at work full-time. Four months after surgery, she was dancing with her son at his wedding.
Compared with the pain she experienced before the operation, Hardiman said "recuperation was a breeze." She thinks that many people with hip pain put off surgery because of the rehabilitation period. "Believe me, the time goes quickly and you are always making progress."
Today, Hardiman says she feels so confident and comfortable that she often forgets she has a new hip. To other people suffering as she did, she advises, "The hip replacement is worth it in the long run. It gave me a new lease on life!"
For an orthopedic surgeon
For a referral to one of our orthopedic surgeons, call our physician referral line at 1-800-540-9191 or go to our website at www.hallmarkhealth.org/physicians.