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3 months post-op: back to hip rehab to get off crutches

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This week it’s three months since I had my knee replacement. Turns out that quite a lot of people born with hip-dysplasia develop knee problems due to the abnormal wear that comes from the way we walk. It’s been lovely to hear from these people who have commented on my @WalkingJill blog posts, and gave me a chance to hear what to expect after that initial and very painful first month.

So where am I at three months in?

  • I’m very mobile locally, on my crutches, and back to walking my virtual Pennine Way – using my daily rehab walks to clock up 1-2 miles per day. Since 1st March I’ve managed 36 miles and there are 32 miles left to complete the challenge I had to abandon last year.
  • I’m able to walk between the kitchen and lounge without crutches (albeit lobsided) and I can now stand for about 10 minutes unaided. I can make a cuppa or lunch and carry it to the lounge to eat or drink. Compared to a month ago this feels like a luxury!
  • Doing certain physio exercises can be painful, and sometimes my knee aches after a long walk, but I’m not really in much pain.
  • My knee isn’t swollen and I can see the shape of my lovely straight leg – the first time I’ve been able to say that in 50 years!
  • I can sit at a table with my leg bent at 90 degrees for about an hour before I have to get up and move around to unlock it. This means I can sit at a desk to do a bit of work and can eat at a table.
  • I’m back swimming in the fast lane in the local pool and I can get in and out via the ladders rather than using the chair hoist.

I’m not yet off crutches to walk any distance, nor am I driving or have I braved public transport. (Next time you’re getting on and off a train or tube take a moment to consider how you’d ‘mind the gap’ if you couldn’t stand on just one leg to step up and out easily, couldn’t hold on to any handles, and you’re surrounded by lots of people in a rush who are focused on their phones not where they’re going….)

It always comes back to the left hip!

My left hip has always been the weakest point in my body. That’s the one that wasn’t fully formed when I was born and has had so much surgery including a hip replacement 19 years ago. So it’s not really a surprise that getting me off crutches isn’t really about my new knee. It’s about getting my left quads and glutes strong enough to take more of the weight than before and retraining my brain to let it.  It’s also about correcting the leg length discrepancy.

As well as physio exercises that now extend to both legs, the next big step is a podiatrist appointment to re-work my orthotics and potentially add a small raise to the sole of my left shoe. I used to have my left shoes adapted in that way but after my hip replacement my leg length discrepancy lessened and so I was able to have orthotics inside the shoes (my left foot is a whole size smaller than the right so there’s extra room in that shoe!). But now my right leg has been straightened there’s a good inch or so more discrepancy and no more room in the shoe!  My first appointment is next week, and once I have some adapted shoes I should be stable enough to walk unaided.

Until then I’ll be whizzing around Walton using my crutches reciprocally, giving my triceps a work out as well as clocking up the miles!

Thanks to everyone who has been cheering me on xx

Jill Pringle was born with hip dysplasia and has had multiple surgeries including open and closed reductions, leg lengthening, hip and knee replacements. She walks and blogs to raise awareness of DDH and to raise money for Steps Charity.

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