new hip new you

A hip replacement can give you a new lease on life

Albany, New York (NEWS10) — When joint pain limits your movement and affects your life, could joint replacement be the answer? A local woman with two new hips showed NEWS10’s Lydia Kulbida how the surgery helped her reach new heights.

Thousands of runners packed the streets of Troy for the 2022 Turkey Trot. Among the happy, smiling faces was Allison Marinucci, wearing a bigger smile at the end to celebrate her fastest 5K of the year.

That’s in stark contrast to just a few months earlier, when Allison had both hips replaced after two years of pain. “Not being able to walk properly, not being able to sleep well, if she exercised she paid a heavy price for it,” she recalled of the impact on her life.

Allison is not your typical hip replacement patient. At only 40 years old, she has been an active athlete her entire life. She was a swimmer before turning to hiking and running, completing several ultra marathons.

The wear and tear on his bones aggravated congenital hip dysplasia where the joints had not formed correctly. “The doctor told me that he had the hips of someone in his 80s,” Allison said. “That was kind of crazy to hear.” The decision to have surgery on both hips came after physical therapy and other options failed to alleviate the great burden of constant pain.

“Many times, what we hear is, ‘Wow, I should have done this a long time ago, because the pain is gone! I feel great and now I can get back to doing the things I love to do,’” said Patrick Suarez, owner of Suarez Physical Therapy in Latham. That was certainly the case for Allison, who was hiking with her son five weeks after her second surgery.

“Hip injuries for us are up there, probably 60 to 70% of what we see because we generally work with more active people,” Suárez said. With such a high volume of hip injuries, Suárez knew that Allison was not responding to initial physical therapy as she should. He suggested further imaging, which revealed cartilage loss that left only a bone-to-bone connection in both hip joints.

“It was definitely like, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s crazy!'” Allison said. “Honestly, I was relieved to know what was wrong after suffering and getting worse for two years.”

Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Matthew Tetreault said people don’t have to live with pain. “The old teaching was,” he said, “‘Wait as long as you can.'” He added that this has changed as surgical techniques and replacement materials have improved, and patients have become younger.

“If a patient is in pain and has a diagnosis and extent of disease that would warrant a hip replacement, they don’t need to wait as long as we used to think,” Dr. Tetreault said. “You are sacrificing years of quality of life.”

Once the decision is made, what does the surgery involve? It takes less than two hours for a surgeon to remove the damaged joint and replace it with a ceramic head, supported by a plastic liner and a metal stem.

“In essence, we are creating a new joint by removing that arthritic head. We use a stem that is inserted into the femur. We use a new socket that comes back to the surface,” Dr. Tetreault explained as he demonstrated a replacement. “The bone grows over the implant. This is a biological relationship that lasts over time.”

Recovery begins immediately, with walking shortly after the anesthesia wears off. Then several weeks of physical therapy improve strength and range of motion. But as with any surgery, there are risks.

“Any time an incision is made in the skin, there is a potential for nerve and blood vessel damage,” Dr. Tetreault said, adding that there are some risks unique to hip replacement. “Now that it has metal in it, any fall that breaks a bone can also cause complications with the replacement itself.”

But when the constant pain that limited movement or prevented sleep disappears, Dr. Tetreault noted, “hip replacement patients, in general, are some of our happiest patients.”

“I’m glad I did it and I’m glad it’s behind me,” Allison said of her surgeries. “It feels like a gift, it really does.”

Talking with other patients is helpful for patients who want to know what to expect when they recover from hip replacement surgery. That’s why News10’s Lydia Kulbida is glad a mutual friend introduced her to Allison for this story. Lydia is undergoing the same procedure and will spend the next month getting stronger and faster.


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