Michael Lee's hip pain took a sharp turn right after a local golf tournament. "The pain was so severe I had difficulty playing at all," says the 68-year-old retired Hillsborough man. "Then it got so bad that I couldn’t walk to the far end of Costco and back."
One orthopedist tried steroid injections, which didn’t help. Another doctor tried them again. Lee went to an acupuncturist. All the treatments offered mild relief for a short period of time.
His son suggested that Lee see Robert Detch, M.D., with the Mills-Peninsula Medical Center. When Dr. Detch examined Lee’s X-ray, it became clear why he was in such excruciating pain. After years of osteoarthritis, Lee had no cartilage left in his hip joint.
New Hip Joints Last Decades
Just a decade ago, patients such as Lee might have gotten a metal-on-metal hip socket and ball that would need to be replaced, or a plastic socket that would have worn-out after 10 or 15 years. But with new technology, today's joint replacements are successful and long-lasting for more than 90 percent of patients, Dr. Detch says.
Cross-linked polyethylene used in new hip sockets has proven itself far more durable than older medical plastics. "It's dramatically increased the lifespan of the hip joint," he says. "We have 10 years of data and not a single person has worn out their cross-linked bearing."
New zirconium oxide ceramics are used as the ball for the new joint. They last longer than older ceramics, and they don’t release metal ions like a metal ball might.
"Using these new materials, our hip replacements can last decades," Dr. Detch says.
Lee Gets Back in the Game
Lee walked into Dr. Detch’s office not knowing what to expect. He was disappointed with the results of treatments by his previous doctors, and frankly wasn’t sure if anything could be done to end his hip pain. Right away, he could tell this orthopedic practice was different.
"I was very impressed with the facilities; they have the best of everything here," he says.
Lee had his hip replacement in October, and Dr. Detch followed his care closely throughout his hospital stay.
"By the end of October, I stopped my pain medications one day, gave up my walker the next day, and was walking on my own the following day," he says. "Recovery happens quickly. It's like somebody flipped a switch and you're better."
Lee played his first round of golf just seven weeks after surgery. Within a few months, he was playing golf four times a week.
"I can even walk the course," he says. "I have none of the pain I had before. I’m totally unrestricted in my movements. You get your life back. You really do."
Every once in a while, Lee says he sees someone else limping along in pain. "I think, geez, this is fixable. Why don’t you go get it fixed? You could be back playing golf!"