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Just six months after having replacement surgery to her left hip joint at Cayuga Medical Center, Nadine Baker took a trip to Scotland in the fall of 2022, where she hiked trails without a twinge of pain. Deidre Blake, MD, performed the surgery that Nadine calls a miracle, which relieved her discomfort and led to a speedy recovery.
Nadine’s journey from pain to wellness began in the summer of 2021, when during walks with a friend, she felt a nagging soreness in her leg. After she retired from managing communications at Wells College in 1995 and subsequently got her master’s degree in communication at Cornell University, Nadine enjoyed meeting friends for walks, exploring Ithaca, and traveling, but by 2021 her increasing hip pain threatened those activities.
“During our regular walks that summer, I’d say to my friend that my leg hurts. By the fall, my leg hurt all the time,” she recalls.
As the leisurely walks and Tai Chi classes became more difficult, she sought help from Dr. Deidre Blake, a surgeon at Cayuga Orthopedics. X-ray imaging showed much of the cartilage in Nadine’s hip joint had worn away, a common condition called osteoarthritis that often develops in weight-bearing joints such as the hip. This degenerative type of arthritis occurs most often in people 50 years of age and older, though it may occur in younger people, too. As the joint’s cartilage wears away, it can cause pain, bone rubbing on bone, and additional damage to the hip joint.
For Nadine’s initial care, Dr. Blake used non-surgical treatments, the protocol she recommends for most patients before they consider joint replacement surgery. Those treatments may include lifestyle modifications to minimize activities that aggravate the condition, weight reduction to reduce stress on the hip joint, which was not the case for Nadine, physical therapy, and assistive devices such as canes and medications.
Nadine’s treatment involved cortisone injections administered by Dr. Blake to ease the joint pain. That powerful anti-inflammatory medication was supplemented with ibuprofen. Her pain lessened for a short time, but soon returned with renewed misery. By January 2022, Nadine realized that hip replacement surgery was the treatment she needed.
“When you are in pain all the time, it only makes sense to do something about it if it’s possible,” she says.
Her hip replacement operation was in early March 2022, and she was up and walking with assistance the day after surgery, which Dr. Blake recommends to patients for exercising their new joints. Nadine returned to her Town of Danby home two days after surgery. She used a walker indoors and a cane while outdoors to do her daily rehabilitative exercises. A visiting nurse saw Nadine daily for the first week after surgery, helping her make rapid progress in her recovery. In April, she felt sufficiently confident in her recovery and booked her trip to Scotland for the end of September.
“I was so impressed by the result that I keep calling it a miracle. I went from excruciating pain to no pain and could not have asked for more,” Nadine says.
For about the first three weeks post-surgery, a physical therapist came to her home to help her exercise. Afterward, Nadine worked with Tyler Edwards, a physical therapist at the Cayuga Wellness Center in downtown Ithaca. As Nadine grew stronger, she increased her exercise activity and added Aqua Zumba and Aqua Fit classes at Island Health & Fitness in the Cayuga Wellness Center building at 310 Taughannock Blvd., Ithaca. She continued her rehabilitation and exercises right up to leaving for her trip to Scotland, where she had no problems or pain.
Nadine’s successful hip replacement and recovery have given her back her active life. In early 2023, she gave her new hip some exercise with a trip to Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.
For more information on joint replacement surgery and other orthopedic care, call Cayuga Orthopedics at (607) 272-7000 or click here to check the practice’s website.