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Old 03-29-2005, 04:32 PM   #1
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katenyc5 HB User
Just diagnosed with degenerative hip arthritis

Hi everyone,

Glad I found this site and I sure do hope someone can tell me something here. I've had pain in my right hip, sometimes going down my leg, for 6 months now. I'm 45. I had a baby in 2002 -- a big boy who has done nothing but grow and get heavier. I always favored carrying him on my right hip, often when he would fall asleep in the car and then I would have to carry him on my right hip up a couple of flights of stairs to get home. [We live in a walk-up apartment.] I tried switching to the left hip once in a while but just didn't have the strength on this side to carry this very big boy.

Six months ago I started having pain -- I waited it out through the winter and basically stopped lifting him so much. I thought I might have bursitis and if I laid off of it, it might get better with time. Well, this past winter was pretty bad, despite the fact that I stopped lifting him, and it rendered me totally inactive. I could walk around, but the minute I tried to go to the gym or take a long walk, the pain would flare up and sometimes get just excruciating. I was still convinced I had bursitis, though.

A month ago I broke down and went to a hip specialist the Hospital for Special Surgery in NYC. I had an MRI done last week, and was shocked today when the doc called to say that I have torn cartilage and degenerative arthritis in my right hip. Arthritis is virtually non-existent in my family. He doesn't think it relates to the wear & tear of carrying my son for 2+ years on my hip, but I tend to differ. I have read that arthritis can start from an injury or trauma, and I definitely think that I have injured my hip. I'm a small, small-boned person, and I gave birth to a big-boned, big boy [this is what I get for marrying a 6'3", big-boned man].

I've been depressed all day. The doctor basically said it's degenerative, although it could be okay for a long time. He talked about cortisone injections, about going in surgically to scrape away the cartilage. He didn't mention hip replacement -- I guess that's down the road. He said it could spread to the left hip. Wow, I'm in shock ... I expected the phone call to be a bursitis call.

I am back to the gym these past 2 weeks, but the only thing I can manage is to ride the exercise bike [the one where you have full back support] and to keep it on low resistance. The moment I up the resistance, I feel it in my hip. I can't walk long distances without feeling pain, or stand for a long period of time. My favorite exercise machine -- the elliptical trainer -- I can't really do it anymore. I'm not really overweight [for me, I am], but I'm very out of shape as a result of this.

I was also hoping to try for another baby next month [despite my age]. I had my son through fertility treatments and I was scheduled for another next month. However, I wonder if I should do it now. I know deep down that carrying my son constantly on that side has caused this arthritis and I worry about another pregnancy and getting through it, but then also dealing with another baby to carry around -- and how I'll do it. Other than this, my health seems to be pretty good.

Is there anyone out there who might have a similar experience, or can relate to anything here? I'm just dumbfounded -- this is such unexpected news, and I don't know what to do next. I have read that the actress Jane Kazmareck [sp?] has had 2 hip replacements still being in her 40's from arthritis as well.

Lastly, what about the surgery where they can scrape the cartilage away? Does that work? I'd like to know more about it. The conversation with the doctor today was too brief because I just was thrown off and didn't know what questions to ask.

Thanks for any help -- I really do appreciate it.

Kate in NJ
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Old 03-30-2005, 01:02 PM   #2
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hip2it HB User
Re: Just diagnosed with degenerative hip arthritis

Wow, what a story. Don't get depressed. We have all been where you are. I am only 46 (female) and had my left hip replaced 4 months ago. I had osteo arthritis in my hip and it was growing bone spurs like crazy. It took a long time for me to get the MRI. They thought that it was female related and I had all kinds of mis-diagnosis. When I got the MRI (about 1 1/2 years ago) and they said it was arthritis I decided to get in shape and try to get some weight off. I lost 35 pounds in that year and a half and it helped me but it was still getting worse. After taking 200 mg Celebrex a day, it just got too bad for me to cope with.

I'm so glad that I did the operation. Now I can do almost everything I used to do (just slower until the healing is done).

Keep up your courage. I read a great book called "Strong Women and Men Beat Arthritis" by Miriam E. Nelson. It has excellent practical advice.

My doctor told me that they really don't know why a 'hip' does this. He said that something in the body simply turns off the regenerative properties in a joint and they still don't know why (and cannot reverse the effect). If it helps, he said that only 20% of his patients that get one hip replaced end up getting the other one too...

Well, gotta go for now... keep up the courage, we've all been there. I'll write more later...

 
Old 03-30-2005, 10:40 PM   #3
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katenyc5 HB User
Re: Just diagnosed with degenerative hip arthritis

Hi, Hip2it,

Thanks for writing back. I need some encouragement right now. You know, I'm just feeling so darned down. I've had this hip pain for 6 months and I didn't like it, but I was living with it. I thought I had bursitis and that this eventually would go away. I've never been diagnosed with anything degenerative in my life and I keep thinking this must be happening to someone else and not me.

You mentioned that you got in shape and lost 35 lbs. How did you do it? I used to be active. The most I can manage to do presently is to ride the life cycle exercise bike for 30 minutes on the lowest resistance possible. And some days that bothers my hip. I can't walk on the treadmill for more than 5-10 minutes [and never on an incline anymore] nor use the elliptical precor machine [which was always my favorite]. I can't stand for a long time without being in pain, and I can't walk long distances without paying for it later. I used to love to take long walks.

My other news is that I was planning to try for another baby in May. [My 2.5 year old is through fertility treatments.] As much as I want another baby, I know that the weight gain will probably hurt my situation and I'm not sure how I can handle another baby physically. I wouldn't want to have hip replacement surgery while I have an infant or toddler because of the restrictions I would have during recovery. And it's years after you have a baby before they stop wanting to be picked up. My son is almost 3 and there are times when he is desperate for me to pick him up still.

Well, thanks again for writing. I will go get that book, too. I hope to be good again someday as you are.

Kate
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Old 03-31-2005, 07:13 AM   #4
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hip2it HB User
Re: Just diagnosed with degenerative hip arthritis

If you read the book it will tell you that even though it hurts, exercise will make it better. The idea is to NOT stop exercising. Although this sounds crazy, it has some truth to it. Before I knew it was arthritis I tried stopping all activity and it didn't get better. Then I tried doing as much as possible and it still stayed about the same (although it ached at night a lot). Then, when I found out what it was they put me on medicine. First it was just Aleve twice a day. That really helped at first.

I lost weight by doing a combination of resistance bands and kickbox aerobics and eating 6 times a day with both protein and carb at every meal. It is a program that our karate studio does.

I really can't counsel on having another baby. The surgery would make it hard to do immediately after but once several months go by you should be able to pickup the baby.

I think the most important thing for you is to keep your spirits up and get back into doing things as much as possible. Ask your doctor about taking Aleve or Ibuprofen. Taking it before exercise works good and then putting a heating pad at night helps as well. Try to stay as positive as possible. Although I would like to tell you that it is easy, it's not. Living with pain is depressing and painful. The only thing you really have control over is your attitude. Some days will be great and some days won't. Even after my hip replacement I have discouraging days because I just can't quite do it all and I get mad and angry. Just know that we are all here to help and you really can make it. The medical science has come so incredibly far on this. Even the surgery is now almost commonplace. If you have to have something at least it is something that the medical community can treat and you can get almost completely back to normal.

Hang in there! If I can help just one person from my experience I would be ecstatic!

 
Old 03-31-2005, 08:30 AM   #5
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katenyc5 HB User
Re: Just diagnosed with degenerative hip arthritis

Hip2it,

Hi and thanks again. You're right. It is depressing, the pain. Even though I'm 45, I feel I'm too young for this -- yet there does seem to be lots of others our age dealing with this as well. Do you think you'll be able to eventually do everything the same again? Will it just take time?

I haven't been happy dealing with this pain for the last 6 months, but I guess the not knowing of what it was kept me from being depressed about it. I think I thought it was just go away -- like a lot of my back ailments have done in the past. Degenerative arthritis is a hard thing for someone my age to hear. I feel very unlucky right now. I have an active 2.5 year old and wanted to have another -- even though I'm pushing it age-wise to do that.

Well, thanks for your support. It is very helpful.
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Old 03-31-2005, 01:07 PM   #6
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hip2it HB User
Re: Just diagnosed with degenerative hip arthritis

katenyc5,
You are too young for this! So am I (46). It's just in our genes that this happened to us and there really is nothing we can do to reverse it. We are forced to live with it the best way we can. And yes, I do think that I will be able to do everything (just about) that I used to do.

Even now, I have my flexibility back to the way it was 2 years ago. The pain is totally gone. The only pain I have left is the bone growing into the prosthesis (and that should go away). I can tie my shoes. I can bend down. I can sit in the car without pain (before it was painful just sitting because of the position of the bone spurs). I really do think that I will heal completely and be just like before. Of course, I have to be more careful that I don't fall (titanium doesn't break if you fall, the femur can shatter). I also need to be careful that I don't pop it out of joint (more likely in the first year). But, I can live with those restrictions. I also can't run but I didn't like to that much anyway. I have to think about wearing out the plastic part but I'm more concerned that I stay in shape. I refuse to give up just because it might wear out. I figure that I'll probably need to get it replaced before I die but with the model I have they can replace the socket plastic and pop off the ball part and replace that as well. It will be much easier if that's all they need to do.

If you want more kids I say, go for it. I have one boy (just turned 12) and that was more than enough for me to handle. The younger ages are tough on the parents (lots of running around) but the joy they bring is tremendous. Don't give up just because you have this disability. Remember that this is so much easier to take than cancer or AIDS or who knows what else. You have a lot of life to live and although it seems bleak now, you will be able to do much that you want. When it gets too hard to keep up with the kids you can deal with it then. You still have all the medical treatments to try before you get to where I am.

Chin up!

 
Old 03-31-2005, 04:19 PM   #7
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Join Date: Oct 2003
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katenyc5 HB User
Re: Just diagnosed with degenerative hip arthritis

Hip2it,

Thanks again. I guess this is all relatively new news, so I can't help but feeling bummed out a lot.

Thanks for your support and kind words. Glad you're doing so well.
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