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Kathleen Flanagan
I was really looking forward to reading Kathleen's story since she was one of the earliest patients to undergo the Zimmer MIS 2-incision hip procedure that involves two small incisions and the separation, rather than cutting, of hip muscles and tendons. My own surgeon, Douglas Padgett, has now been trained by Zimmer to do this procedure in NYC, but it was not available when I needed to have my THR. I was curious about Kathleen's experience and how it differed from mine. Additionally, especially since she is a yoga teacher, I wanted her input about how the 2-incision approach has impacted her movement post-operatively since this is uncharted territory. - NR
I am a Yoga teacher and bodyworker and rode Dressage competitively for 20 years.
flanagan My hip (left) started giving me problems when I was about 42. It started slowly with pain increasing as the years went by until I could hardly walk without a limp and stair climbing became impossible without using the rail.
The first signs were sporadic and some days were better than others and I found that Ibuprofen worked wonderfully well, but I couldn't take it for more than a day or two before experiencing stomach problems. Having seen so many bodies (through my profession) scarred from the traditional hip surgery with the lack of range of motion, I was very reluctant to have it done. In other words, I didn't want to be restricted after surgery. I researched alternative therapy and tried acupuncture for the pain and Celebrex, and read everything I could find until I read about Dr. Berger and his two-incision surgery in which he didn't cut any muscles or tendons and sent his patients home the same day. After waiting two months for an appointment I was told by Dr. Berger that I would be a perfect candidate for the surgery, but he couldn't guarantee that I would be un-restricted as far as Yoga after the surgery. I was his first serious yoga patient and would be telling him what I could and couldn't do.
I had the surgery April 9, 2001 and came home from the hospital the same day! I was walking without assistance within a week and back to practicing Yoga (limited to strengthening and not stretching) within two weeks. I received physical therapy for four weeks and found the work in the pool most beneficial along with the bike riding (stationary at first).
Now two years later I am extremely active in my work of teaching Yoga and doing bodywork. There seems to be no limits to what I can do, even the pose in the picture on the dancerhips.com Yoga page. Of course in the early post-operative period I followed the protocol of not crossing my legs, not flexing more than 90 degrees, etc., but am now able to do just about everything, even lotus.
NR notes: The lotus position can be done by most post-THR patient with posterior incisions, not just those with the 2-incision procedure. I am allowed to attempt it (see here. For further encouragement see Pauline van Betten on this page.
The hip replacement surgery for me was a revelation. I became a beginner again in Yoga and carefully worked out the slow process of healing and getting strong and "tricking" my body into poses that I could hardly do prior to my surgery. The 2 incisions do not restrict forward or back bending and the twisting poses get better all the time. I don't force anything, but let it happen through coaxing my body to have confidence in my choices. I also do a lot of Pilates work to keep my core very strong to support any weaknesses in my hips. I have been working with several other patients of his to gain back some range of motion and to heal from the trauma.
Kathleen Flanagan
51 years old
11 February 2004
Kathleen Flanagan's story on the Zimmer website: Click here.
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