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Double Hip Replacement Gives Park Ranger His Life Back

Double Hip Replacement Gives Park Ranger His Life Back

Doctor and patient

Thomas Dillon can’t afford to be sidelined by hip pain. So when this distance runner, an avid golfer and supervising park ranger for the Monmouth County Park System was diagnosed with advanced osteoarthritis in both hips, he gritted his teeth and did the best he could.

In 2015, Dillon noticed his hips hurt after trail running one day, and the pain stuck around. “I finally went to the doctor and got some X-rays,” said the 55-year-old Dillon. “He said both hips are shot—bone-on-bone.”

Osteoarthritis Diagnosis

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It represents the wear and tear of the cartilage that covers the ends of bones that allows them to glide smoothly in a joint, called articular cartilage. When the articular cartilage is lost, this results in pain and loss of motion.

Dillon’s bone-on-bone indicated to his doctor that his osteoarthritis was already at an advanced stage. “It was surprising that my hips were as bad as they were in such a short time,” said Dillon. “I have a high tolerance to pain. I played a lot of sports as a kid and figured there was just some wear and tear, but it was a lot worse than I expected.”

He tried cortisone shots, which would help for a month or two, but the pain would return every time. “I lived like this for two years,’ said Dillon. “I couldn’t run anymore. I couldn’t play golf. I was going to retire. I love my job, but I knew I was going to be restricted in what I could do. I was depressed.”

Double Hip Replacement Solution

Then his doctor suggested that Dillon see University Orthopaedic Associates’ Dr. William Baione.

“I’m a good judge of character and I could tell Dr. Baione wanted to help,” said Dillon. “He said, ‘I’m going to give you your life back.’ And he did.”

Dr. Baione suggested a double hip replacement, also known as a bilateral hip replacement. Up to 20 percent of people who need a total hip replacement will ultimately need both hips replaced, and they don’t usually regain optimal function until both hips are done. For the right person, a bilateral hip replacement offers one hospital stay, one course of anesthesia, lower hospital costs and a potentially earlier return to functionality.

“Having my hips replaced one at a time didn’t appeal to me,” Dillon said. “It was going to be a yearlong process, and I put it off for as long as I could. I got to about two-and-a-half years before I couldn’t take it anymore.”

The Right Procedure, the Right Choice

Dillon said that from start to finish, working with Dr. Baione was “a blessing.” Dr. Baione took the time to explain to Dillon exactly what would happen

Dr. Baione also uses the Direct Anterior Approach (DAA), meaning he goes in through the front of the hips as opposed to the side.

“Everything he told me was spot on,” said Dillon. “I guess I was a good candidate for bilateral hip replacement: I was in good shape, I wasn’t overweight, I had good blood glucose levels and no heart disease. Dr. Baione really did give me my life back.”

Remarkable Recovery

The surgery went well. Though Dillon stayed in the hospital for a night, he felt he could have gone home the same day. And, he describes his recovery as nothing short of amazing. He used a walker for a week and then a cane for three days. And that was it.

“Long story short, after three weeks I was walking around better than I had in 10 years,” he said.

Though Dr. Baione advised against high-impact exercise, he encouraged Dillon to be as active as possible, focusing on lower impact exercises such as walking, hiking and golf. When Dillon returns to work in January 2019, he will be able to walk the park system’s trails, something he hadn’t been able to do for nearly two years.

“I’m just glad to be able to get back to the trails at work,” he said. “I plan to walk the trails, go to the gym and ride my bike. And I have a new set of golf clubs waiting for me. I love to play golf, and I couldn’t play. I’ll be able to use them soon.”

Dillon is eager to get the word out about UOA and Dr. Baione. “More people should know about this,” he said. “People sitting on the fence, wondering if a double hip replacement is the right move, need to know that there are doctors out there who can take the pain away.”

If you have hip pain, the experts at University Orthopaedic Associates can help. Request an appointment to get a diagnosis of what’s causing your hip pain and to talk about your treatment options.