07 Jan Local Entrepreneur Receives ‘Excellent Care’ During Two Hip Surgeries
As an interior designer of professional office spaces, Amy Taylor of Knoxville knows how to make her clients comfortable at work.
But several years ago Taylor became very uncomfortable herself, whether sitting or standing. She had severe pain in her back and hips that made it difficult to bend and walk.
“I had a lot of lower back pain and leg pain. It progressed to hip pain, deep pain, in my back and lower legs. At night, I couldn’t sleep on my side. I’d wake up with a lot of hip pain,” she said.
“It got to the point where I came home and went straight to the recliner and put my legs up, because that was the most comfortable position. I used to walk daily, but all of that stopped – going to the park or going outdoors. It definitely affected my level of exercise and activity.” Taylor was diagnosed with femoroacetabular impingement, or FAI, of the hip. It’s a condition in which the ball of the femur (thigh) bone isn’t perfectly round and with activity patients can experience pinching, tearing and premature wear. This can damage the cartilage of the both the ball and socket and, ultimately, lead to bone-onbone arthritis. “But not everyone needs a hip replacement,” said Dr. Paul Yau, an orthopedic surgeon at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center. “Caught early enough, tears can be repaired, the hip can be made round and balance can be restored to the joint. With modern techniques in hip arthroscopy, we can accomplish a lot of work through three tiny incisions.
“Hips are much like tires. If they’re not round, they’ll wear out sooner,” said Yau. “A lot of what I do is similar to being a mechanic. If your tires are out of balance, you balance them to help them run smoother and last longer. If there is a hole or a tear, repair it. But if your treads are completely worn, it makes the most sense to replace the whole tire.”
Taylor tried steroid injections to calm the pain, without success. So she went to see Dr. Yau.
Even though Taylor is only 42 years old, Yau suggested replacing both of her hips with artificial joints.
“Yes, it is quite unusual to be that young and need replacement surgery. I certainly spend a lot of time repairing and saving hip joints when possible. However, past a certain point, replacement surgery has a much better chance of providing decades of pain relief. Recent data show the average age of hip replacement patients has dropped below age 50 and Amy’s not far from that,” said Yau.
Taylor had her hips replaced one at a time, one side in late August 2014 and the second two months later.
Both were done at Fort Sanders, with Taylor staying just one night in the hospital each time. Taylor was able to go home so quickly because Yau used a minimally invasive technique called direct anterior hip replacement.
It requires only a 4-inch incision, and the muscles and tendons are spread apart to make room for the new hip joint instead of cutting them. This leads to a quicker recovery. Yau does a high volume of direct anterior hip replacements each year.
“This is a much easier way for patients to recover from hip replacement surgery,” said Yau. “I have some patients where I did one hip the old way and then we did the other one the new (anterior) way, and patient feedback reports the new way is about 70 to 80 percent easier.”
Taylor said in both surgeries, she felt dramatically better quickly. “In both cases by the third week I felt so much better and was off all my pain meds,” she said. She is going through physical therapy to strengthen her muscles again after years of not exercising.
“I still have some back pain; I have a limp in my gait,” she said. “Dr. Yau recommended I go to some physical therapy because my muscles are weak because I haven’t used them for two years. The pain in my hips is gone, and right now I just have muscle related pain.”
Taylor said she would recommend Fort Sanders to anyone facing hip surgery. “Dr. Yau is so personable,” said Taylor. “He talks to you, listens to you. He talked to my husband. He called me after the surgery and stayed in touch.
“Dr. Yau and Fort Sanders did a great job. The care at Fort Sanders was outstanding,” said Taylor. “They were very attentive to any needs I had, all very knowledgeable, with excellent care. I’ve already recommended them to about three of my friends.”