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Music teacher sings a happy tune after hip replacement surgery

May 2016


Musician Bonnie Blanchard Romain loves teaching her students how to play the flute. But her hip pain was making it impossible for her to enjoy her students’ music during lessons. The pain was sometimes so intense that it distracted her from her students’ playing.  

hip-replacement-surgery-bonnie.jpg“I had to explain that the grimace on my face wasn’t from their flute playing, but from my hip,” said the 65-year-old Haller Lake resident.

Normally an energetic person who loves to entertain, travel and take long walks with her dog, a Black Labrador, she had stopped all of her activities because of her pain.

“My back, hip and knee were all hurting, hurting, hurting,” she said. “I had a right-side hip replacement before and I knew my left hip now needed to be replaced. But I figured hip surgery would only take care of one of these problems so I put it off.”

Blanchard Romain is no stranger to the operating room. She had gone through 15 surgeries already – everything from detached retinas to multiple knee surgeries. 

“Having so many surgeries made me not want to have another. It was a big deal. I didn’t want to have to do it again,” she said.

Who Should Have Hip Replacement Surgery?

The most common reason for hip replacement is osteoarthritis in the hip joint. Your doctor might also suggest this surgery if you have:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis (a disease that causes joint pain, stiffness and swelling)
  • Osteonecrosis (a disease that causes the bone in joints to die)
  • Injury of the hip joint
  • Bone tumors that break down the hip joint

Your doctor will likely suggest other treatments first, including:

  • Walking aids, such as a cane
  • An exercise program
  • Physical therapy
  • Medications

These treatments may decrease hip pain and improve function. Sometimes the pain remains and makes daily activities hard to do. In this case, your doctor may order an X-ray to look at the damage to the joint. If the X-ray shows damage and your hip joint hurts, you may need a hip replacement.

Information courtesy of National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)

Blanchard Romain’s hesitation to have another surgery was understandable, especially since the recovery from the previous hip replacement surgery was long and hard. “I’m a terrible healer. When they say it is going to be a 4- to 6-week recovery, I heal slowly in 8 to 10.”

When Blanchard Romain’s pain became so severe it could no longer be managed with medication, she decided to have her surgery at UW Medicine Hip & Knee Center. Dr. Navin Fernando, an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in the treatment of adult hip and knee arthritis, performed the hip replacement on Feb. 25. He used a direct anterior approach, which may result in less pain and a quicker recovery for some patients than traditional hip replacement surgery.

“I woke up in the recovery room and realized I didn’t have pain. I could walk the next day, and I hardly had to use pain medication when I returned home,” she said. “One month later, I was walking 1.3 miles around the lake.”

During a total hip replacement surgery, the diseased portion of the hip joint is removed and replaced with metallic, ceramic and plastic implants to recreate a new ball and socket joint with smooth surfaces, according to Dr. Adam Sassoon, an orthopedic surgeon who practices at the UW Medicine Hip & Knee Center at Northwest Outpatient Medical Center. 

“Typically our patients are up the day of surgery, walking in the hospital. And we have them doing stairs before leaving the hospital. They’re back to doing their normal activities 6- to 12-weeks following surgery,” said Sassoon.

Blanchard Romain is now attending physical therapy to work on rebuilding strength and correcting her walking gate. The radiating pain to her back and knee from her hip is also gone;  she wishes she had the surgery sooner.

“There is not much you can do that can change your present and future so much,” she said. “When you’re in pain, it is like you’re in jail. Now I’m out of jail and I can travel, teach and do anything. I have my wonderful life back.”

For more information about the UW Medicine Hip & Knee Center, call 206.520.5000.

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