Courtney Keep noticed a peculiar clicking sound in her hips after heavy exercise, such as shoveling snow, cross country skiing or planting a section of garden.
“It started as a limp after a long drive, but it was getting worse,” Courtney said. “In April, when gardening season started, the pain was so bad I had tears in my eyes.”
Courtney is a gardener — an activity that engages all the major muscle groups, such as the arms, legs, shoulders, back and abdomen — also improves mobility, helps build endurance, and is a comparable workout to walking or Pilates.
Courtney is also an enthusiastic Nordic skater, sometimes gliding up to 50 miles on frozen lakes on a bright frosty winter day. “Surprisingly, even with quite severe hip pain, I could still manage to skate. But getting there, driving to the lake, walking to the ice, and putting on my skates was an immersive grinding agony that greyed out the colors,” she said.
Related article: Knee Surgery with APD Orthopaedics
She was seeing Dr. Peter Loescher, then at the Sharon Health Center and now with APD’s Orthopaedics team, for her knee before the focus shifted to her hips. “I told him my hip was progressively hurting more. He took a sonogram, then an X-ray, and recommended orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Ivan Tomek at APD,” Courtney said.
The pandemic, then a personal bout of COVID, delayed Keep’s surgery. “It started with a little bit of hip clicking, then a lot of clicking. Soon you could even hear the grinding. People could hear the audible ‘crunch’ and would ask, ‘What was that?’” Courtney said.
It was misery to sit or stand. “There was a different kind of pain, a sharp pain. I didn’t think it could get worse but it did. Another X-ray showed popcorn-sized pieces of the hip bone were breaking off,” Courtney said. “Dr. Tomek told me, ‘You will know when you are beyond. You will call me.’ I called him.”
Courtney had hip replacement surgery on her right hip in August 2023.
“I was nervous about infection, but the Orthopaedics and Medical-Surgical teams were very reassuring,” Courtney said. “They had a full anti-infection regime for me, before, during, and after surgery. I did not get an infection.”
Courtney is only five weeks out from surgery and, with the fading of surgical pain, notes “the constant deep hip pain is gone. The relief is marvelous,” she said.
She wants potential hip replacement patients to know “the first two weeks are the most difficult. You are allowed 30 minutes of movement: leg lifts, ankle rotations, and walking, then 30 minutes of icing your hip to control swelling. It is a long day of repetition, but you want to do it because you really want to get better.”
Courtney is ready for her second hip replacement surgery — the left hip — with Dr. Tomek.
“After I saw what the first hip replacement did for me, I wanted the second surgery without delay. I know what to expect and know to look forward to the great relief to come from the unrelenting grinding pain,” she said. “I will need to wait until winter 2024 to put on my Nordic skates — to make sure my bones and ligaments are fully healed — then I am looking to skate up a storm, a new personal best of 100 kilometers. Just watch me!”