Lifelong Runner Keeps Pace after Hip Surgery
Birmingham Hip Resurfacing Patient Not Ready to Hang up his Running Shoes
(printed in the Summer 2010 issue of the OnCall community newsletter)
“I’ve told him, ‘you just don’t realize how much
you’ve improved the quality of my life,” Salisbury resident
Bill Snavely said earnestly, shaking his head. “My only thoughts
are that I wish I had done it earlier – wish I had met Tom earlier
– because I didn’t need to be in that pain.”
Snavely had hip resurfacing surgery nine months ago, and he can find no
other downside to his choice to go to Dr. Tom Beck, an orthopedic surgeon
with Atlantic Orthopedics, and Atlantic General Hospital to explore an
alternative to hip replacement.
Debilitating hip problems run in his family; his great grandmother, mother
and older sister have all had arthritic hips. When Snavely began his own
battle two years ago, he was told by a surgeon in Salisbury that his right
hip could be replaced but he wouldn’t be able to run anymore –
an activity that had been a passion for Snavely since he was in high school.
He’s now 61 and refuses to give it up.
“When I heard that, I got up and walked right out of there,”
Snavely said. He continued to live with the pain, counting the steps until
he could sit down after every rising. Life went on: he worked at Counseling
Associates and kept his gym membership at Fruitland’s Youth Exercise
Services. It wasn’t until a year later that Snavely met Dr. Beck.
“As soon as I met Tom Beck, I liked him,” he said. “I
got the feeling he really cares about his patients.”
Dr. Beck, who has offices with Atlantic Orthopaedics in Berlin, MD and
Ocean View, DE, completed a fellowship in hip and knee reconstruction
and has more than 10 years of experience in joint replacement. He has
been performing the Birmingham Hip Resurfacing procedure for more than
two years, completing his first case shortly after it was approved in
this country by the FDA.
Unlike with traditional hip replacement, the femoral ball is preserved
and capped by a metal implant that fits inside the metal-lined hip socket.
The implant used in the hip resurfacing is made from cobalt chrome, a tough
metal that can better handle the everyday wear and tear produced by a
younger, more active patient. Additionally, it does not require a plastic
liner to separate the metal surfaces of the ball implant and the socket
like that used with a total hip replacement. This liner can slowly break
down over time, resulting in irritation in the joint and ultimate failure
of the hip replacement.
The Birmingham implant is also larger in diameter than that used in total
hip replacement. Often closer is size to the patient’s original
femoral ball, it reduces the risk of dislocation and allows further range
of motion as the ball rotates in the socket.
Snavely had his surgery on December 8, 2009 and stayed at Atlantic General
for three days. He walked the halls – pain free for the first time
in nearly two years – a day after the surgery and climbed 16 steps
in the hospital’s rehab center the day after that.
“The care at Atlantic General was wonderful,” he said. “Not
once during my stay did I have to push the button for help. They were
always on top of things.”
He was back at work 13 days after the surgery and at the gym just a few
more days after that.
Dr. Beck and the Birmingham system have extended Snavely’s active
lifestyle by 15 to 20 years. No more pain, not even a limp.
Now Snavely leg presses 335 pounds, two sets of 40 each. He drags 140 pounds
around on a sled up and back, up and back, across the gym floor for about
two-thirds of a mile. When the elliptical is free, he glides through a
slow 5K. All this is in preparation for his re-entry into running, which
he promised Dr. Beck he would avoid for a full year after surgery.
“I’m appreciative of the number of people who have supported
me – from Dr. Beck to Atlantic General to Youth Exercise Services.
I could not have hoped for a better experience.”
And, come December, he’ll be ready.
“I think it will be fun to get out there and run with people who
haven’t had their hips worked on and see how things play out.”
Before his hip pain began, Snavely could run a mile in six minutes and
40 seconds – a time anyone could be proud of. From all appearances,
it’s a time he plans to reach again.