I was hellbent on not having a hip replacement at age 45, but getting your life back and getting the quality of life back is well worth it.”
“It’s about quality of life,” said Troy Allen, a 46-year-old pharmaceutical sales representative who resides in Olean, NY, a community often identified by its proximity to St. Bonaventure University, about an hour and a half drive south of Buffalo on State Route 16. Troy was explaining the need to get rid of the constant pain in his hips so he could begin to live “normally” again.
Through the years, Troy has been an eager participant in all types of sports, including football, basketball, even playing Division I baseball during his college years. He’s also an avid fisherman and a owns boat he navigates over Lake Erie or Chautauqua Lake.
That’s before he stepped out of his car one day in 2021 on a visit to a client in Buffalo and, in his words, “My hip just started killing me.”
“I thought I had simply stepped wrong. I was completely fine all the way to Buffalo. I got out of my car, took one step back and almost went completely down.”
At first, Troy went to his primary care physician for an x-ray, but they found nothing physically wrong. Troy then went through physical therapy, but it only made the condition considerably worse.
No matter what he did, the pain continued to intensify, little by little.
In his words, “On a scale of 1 to 10, I was at a 10 pain-wise with the first leg and the second leg was probably an 8. I was at the point where with my first leg, I couldn’t even lift it off the ground. I can’t even explain the level of pain. It was like in my front groin, sometimes in my knees . . . it was tough even getting up and out of a chair.”
That’s when his physical therapist helped set up an appointment with Dr. Brian McGrath, who practices at UBMD Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, and whose clinical practice is focused on hip reconstruction. Dr. McGrath joined UBMD Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine in 1993 and remains most devoted to the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the hip.
Dr. McGrath diagnosed the condition as bilateral avascular necrosis, a disorder that takes place when something impedes the blood flow to a bone tissue. Think of it as a sequence – the body produces new tissue to put back the tissue that’s breaking down and dying. This repetition must take place properly to maintain the bones’ strength and health. Blood transports the essential nutrients and oxygen to the bones in order to stay strong and regenerate. Minus the blood flow, however, the skeletal structure is unable to produce new bone tissue fast enough. The dying bone begins to fall apart and ultimately collapses.
Between 10,000 and 20,000 Americans develop avascular necrosis each year. It can impact any age group, but most often strikes people in their 30s and 40s.
Troy describes how after the initial hip collapsed, and was reconstructed, the other hip also began to collapse. Dr. McGrath consequently performed hip replacement on both of Troy’s hips, one in May of last year, the other this past January.
Both procedures were carried out at UBMD surgery center. “You know, you’re nervous when you’re having such a major operation. I don’t like hospitals. The surgery center was great. You don’t feel like you’re in a hospital,” asserts Troy.
It was just like a well-oiled machine
Troy unequivocally enjoys talking about his experience at UBMD Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine.
“They just seem like it’s so routine. They make you feel comfortable and, most of all, coming from a smaller town, there are options there, but nothing like I experienced here,” he pronounces. “Dr. McGrath does the surgery, but I can’t give him all the credit. You can tell it’s a total team effort. People understood your pain . . . they understood my quality of life and were sympathetic and so knowledgeable about everything. Just like a well-oiled machine, from start to finish.”
As for the surgeries, Troy says after the first procedure, he was up and about before leaving the facility. “They have this thing where you walk up a few steps and I was actually user a walker the first day.”
He reports that “there’s really not a lot of pain after the procedure, maybe a bit from the swelling and typical surgical pain, but the pain you experienced before the surgery is ‘like immediately gone.’ It’s like you can’t believe it. I ditched the walker the next day, going to a cane for a day or two and, within a few days, I didn’t use anything!”
He then eagerly describes how he was walking up the stairs at home the next day to take a shower.
“I was so fortunate to have such an amazing surgeon and to have made such a fast recovery.”
Getting back to the things I love
A year after the initial surgery, Troy describes the hip as feeling100 percent. “It’s just so nice getting quality of life back and not constantly being in pain. I’m hoping to be able to play golf by the end of the summer or next year and they said that wouldn’t be a problem. The only thing I probably won’t be able to do ever again is run or engage in high impact stuff like basketball.”
When asked for any advice he would give to anyone dealing with a similar hip injury, Troy responds, “Trust the staff. I was hellbent on not having a hip replacement at age 45 but getting your life back and getting the quality of life back is well worth it.”
“Obviously, hip replacement isn’t for everyone, for many reasons. But I’m glad I did it. And I think if it’s an option for you, you should consider it.”
He also recommends, “Don’t mask it with medication, just get it done. As much as it is major surgery, it’s really not that bad and you come out of it and you’re so happy that you did.”
Today, Troy is back on the field as a baseball coach. He’s also looking forward to boarding his boat this summer and being able to do the things he enjoyed prior to his injury. Right now, his one true passion is fishing. “One of my favorite things is to go fishing and last year I couldn’t really enjoy it.”