A Muscle-Sparing Approach

Anterior hip replacement procedure results in rapid recovery.

After a relatively mild Michigan December in which high temperatures hovered in the upper 30s, the mercury dipped and snow fell the first week of 2022.

That’s not out of the ordinary for Lansing, which is why Carol Bird and her husband recently tossed their cold-weather gear and made the permanent move from Michigan’s state capital to Florida.

Following hip replacement surgery, Carol is walking pain-free and enjoying the Florida lifestyle.

Following hip replacement surgery, Carol is walking pain-free and enjoying the Florida lifestyle.

“We vacationed down here for 30-plus years, then did the snowbird thing for a couple of years before finding a permanent place in August,” Carol details. “We downsized quite a bit in making the move, which was probably the hardest part of it all.

“In Michigan, we had a finished basement, two stories on top of that and a three-car garage. So we’ve been trying to pack 30-plus years of a marriage and a house twice the size of what we have here into our new place. It’s kept us quite busy.”

For Carol, the downsizing was a challenge physically as well as logistically. All that moving triggered a bout with aggravating left knee pain that brought back memories of an issue she dealt with a few years earlier.

“I was doing a lot of heavy lifting and going up and down stairs, and I really felt it in my left knee,” Carol explains. “I have arthritis in both knees and had my right knee replaced in 2016, so I first thought it was that happening all over again.”

Prior to completing the move, Carol visited her doctor in Michigan and received cortisone shots in her left knee. Those shots failed to alleviate her pain, though. In fact, her pain got worse and advanced into the upper part of her leg.

“I thought once we got to Florida I would no longer have to climb stairs and had a pool I could relax in, so it would get better,” Carol adds. “But it continued to get worse, to the point where I was having a lot of trouble walking.”

Carol’s troubles forced her to abandon her morning walks and made it difficult for her to go shopping or do housework. Before long she visited a Florida doctor for advice. At one point during her appointment, the pain and anguish reached an exasperating peak.

“My ultimate low was when I was in that doctor’s office and feeling so frustrated that I broke down in tears and said, I just want to be able to clean my house,” Carol relates. That’s how bad it had gotten because it hurt all the time.”

Sensing Carol’s despair, the doctor explained he was limited in what he could do and suggested she see a specialist. When Carol asked for a recommendation, the doctor steered her toward Advanced Orthopedic Center.

It’s A Small World 

That’s where she met Jacob M. Pennington, DO, a newcomer to the practice whom Carol learned was recently an associate of the doctor in Lansing who performed her right knee replacement.

“That gave me a great deal of confidence right from the start because I had a phenomenal experience with my knee replacement,” Carol reveals. “In fact, it was Dr. Pennington who discovered that the problem wasn’t in my knee at all.”

During an extensive examination of Carol’s x-rays, Dr. Pennington could see evidence of arthritis in her left knee, although there wasn’t enough to cause the pain she was describing. So, Dr. Pennington looked further.

“That’s when I found that the real problem was with her hip,” Dr. Pennington reveals. “The degree of arthritis in her hip was quite severe, enough to be causing the pain she was experiencing in her knee.”

After explaining his findings to Carol and briefly discussing cortisone injections as a possible remedy, Dr. Pennington recommended a more viable solution: an advanced version of traditional hip replacement called an anterior direct hip replacement.

Typically scheduled on an outpatient basis, the procedure allows for far less trauma than traditional replacement surgery, which is performed from an area behind the hip joint. Instead, the surgeon enters from the front. 

“When you’re approaching the hip joint from the front, you can simply retract the two main muscle groups that are in the way of the joint itself,” Dr. Pennington educates. “You don’t have to cut any muscle or tissue to get to that joint.

“This is a muscle-sparring approach, and because you’re doing only bone work and not cutting any muscles or tendons, patients recover more quickly than they do from traditional replacement procedures.”

Dance the Night Away 

Further aiding the patient is the type of artificial joint. It’s a smaller implant that has a bit more curve to it. The size and shape make it easier to slip beneath the muscle without doing damage.

As a result, patients typically go home a few hours after the surgery. That’s how it was with Carol, who was moving around freely and without pain within days.

“Carol showed up for her two-week postop visit with a cane, but I think she only did that because she thought I would be mad if she didn’t, because she really didn’t need it,” Dr. Pennington remembers. “By then, she was ready to go dancing again.”

Indeed, Carol has been dancing for joy over the results of her anterior direct hip replacement.

“It’s unbelievable how much this procedure has changed my life,” she says. “I went from being totally frustrated, even depressed, because I was incapacitated, to being totally mobile and having my life back. It’s like a miracle.

“I feel very fortunate to have found Dr. Pennington, who is absolutely fabulous. I feel like it was something wonderful that led me to his office because here I was in a new area from another state and I didn’t know anything about the doctors here.

“There’s a lot of anxiety when you’re unsure of the health care system, but something led me to Dr. Pennington, and I couldn’t be more pleased. He’s personable, he listens, he’s articulate and he’s very detail oriented. I was very, very impressed with him, and I highly recommend him to anyone.”

© FHCN article by Roy Cummings. Photo by Jordan Pysz. mkb
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      Whether you are a professional or collegiate athlete, an active retiree, a "weekend warrior," a high school football star or a hard-working employee anxious to make a difference, the Advanced Orthopedic Center is here to help you feel better a... Read More

    • Jacob M. Pennington, DO

      Jacob M. Pennington, DO, is an orthopedic surgery specialist who is fellowship-trained in hip and knee surgery. Dr. Pennington graduated magna cum laude from the University of Kentucky in Lexington in 2010 and went on to earn his medical de... Read More