Dorothy’s Story: Hip Replacement Surgery to Improve Her Pain

When Dorothy’s doctor told her that hip replacement surgery would heal her pain, she didn’t quite believe her ears.

“They kept telling me that I’d be pain-free after the procedure,” says Dorothy, 87, of Bradford, Pa. “Well, when you’re constantly hurting, it’s very hard to comprehend that. You think, ‘Oh, they’re just saying that.'”

However, with limited options for treatment, Dorothy decided to move forward with surgery. She underwent her hip replacement procedure with orthopaedic surgeon Terrance Foust, DO, at UPMC Cole in September 2023.

And when she woke up after her procedure — much to her surprise — her aches and discomfort were gone.

“They were true to their word,” she says.

Six months after her surgery, Dorothy continues to live without pain. Before the procedure, she couldn’t walk without hurting.

“It was very, very beneficial for me, and I thank God every day for it,” she says.

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‘Almost Impossible to Walk’

Dorothy worked as a registered nurse for over 20 years. She says she’s struggled with tremendous pain for the past three or four.

“It hurt so much when I walked,” she says. “My bones rubbed against each other, and it was almost impossible to walk. I was getting to the point where it was just harder and harder.”

She thought the problem had stemmed from her back. Over the years, she’d had five back procedures.

Then, in mid-2023, she took a hard fall on her hip. She didn’t think she had broken anything, but she decided to get an x-ray to make sure.

The comparison between that x-ray and a previous x-ray from several months before showed her hip had deteriorated. Arthritis had worn away the cartilage in her hip, causing bone to rub against bone.

After her previous back procedures, Dorothy said she’d never want another surgery. But with the amount of pain she was in, she thought it was her best option.

“I thought, ‘Well, I’ve got to do something,'” she says.

“There were two choices. I had to end up living by using a wheelchair or have the hip replacement surgery. And I thought, ‘Uh-uh. I’m not ready for a wheelchair. Whatever time I have left, I would like to be able to get around.'”

Getting surgery at the age of 87 also concerned Dorothy. But she says Dr. Foust and his team reassured her. She says they were warm and always willing to answer questions.

“He was wonderful,” she says.

“So kind and considerate. I had never met him before, but he and the (physician assistant) who worked with him were great. I have nothing but wonderful things to say about them. I would never be afraid if I had to go to them again because they were very good.”

‘I Was Just Amazed’

Dorothy underwent her hip procedure in September 2023. When she woke up, she discovered that what her doctors told her before the surgery was true: Her hip didn’t hurt anymore.

“When I stood up after surgery, that pain was gone,” Dorothy says.

“I couldn’t believe it. At first, I said to my daughter who was with me, ‘It must be the anesthesia. I’m still under anesthesia.’ I was so certain that was why I was able to get about.

“But they proved me wrong as the day progressed. They had me up and walking. I was just amazed, to the point where my daughter and I both cried because I didn’t have that horrible pain.”

After her overnight hospital stay, Dorothy says her care team had her walk along the hallways and up a flight of stairs. She did both without pain, and Dr. Foust and his physician assistant were there to witness it.

“I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, I could never have done that before,'” she says.

After getting discharged, Dorothy did occupational and physical therapy. She chose to do both outside of her home, using it as an excuse to get out of the house.

She was eager to show her doctors her progress at her first follow-up appointment.

“It was just amazing how well I could stand there and take that because before, the pain was so bad,” she says.

‘I Was Very Fortunate, and I Was Very Thankful’

A few months after her surgery, how much better Dorothy can walk has amazed her. She says her new leg “moves beautifully.”

“In the house, I walk without my cane,” she says. “When I go out, my cane is my security blanket. My physical therapist said if it makes me feel safer to have it, then by all means use it.”

Dorothy has physical therapy exercises to do at home to continue building up strength in her leg. Those exercises help to keep her limber.

But she doesn’t do anything to put too much strain on her new hip. She’s especially vigilant about the risk of falling, especially during winter when there’s ice.

“I am very protective of my new leg,” she says. “I don’t want anything to happen to it.”

Dorothy says she’s thankful for the work of Dr. Foust and her entire care team. Because of her many years as a nurse, she says she’s been around medical professionals a lot. She says Dr. Foust had a “wonderful way with his patient care.”

“The whole experience I had, I was very fortunate and I was very thankful,” she says.

About UPMC Orthopaedic Care

When you are dealing with bone, muscle, or joint pain, it can affect your daily life. UPMC Orthopaedic Care can help. As a national leader in advanced orthopaedic care, we diagnose and treat a full range of musculoskeletal disorders, from the acute and chronic to the common and complex. We provide access to UPMC’s vast network of support services for both surgical and nonsurgical treatments and a full continuum of care. Our multidisciplinary team of experts will work with you to develop the treatment plan that works best for you. Our care team uses the most innovative tools and techniques to provide better outcomes. We also are leaders in research and clinical trials, striving to find better ways to provide our patients care. With locations throughout our communities, you can find a provider near you.