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Osteoarthritis & Hip


Osteoarthritis (OA), also known as arthrosis or degenerative joint disease, is a disease featuring pain and impaired function of the joints. It is the most common form of arthritis. While inflammation contributes to the disease process, the main cause is "wear and tear" to the synovium (joint lining). Treatment is with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), local injections with glucocorticoids and with joint replacement surgery. There is no known cure for osteoarthritis. 

The main symptoms are pain and restricted movement. The pain is chronic pain or gives varying amounts of discomfort when standing and walking. Pain is generally described as aching, sharp, or a burning sensation in the associated muscles and tendons, and includes loss of mobility and often stiffness. Humid weather increases the pain in many patients. Patients can experience muscle spasm and contractions in the tendons. Osteoarthritis can cause a crackling noise (called crepitus) when moved or palpated. Occasionally, affected joints may fill with fluid. Some develop Heberden's nodes in the fingers when these are affected.

My condition was osteoarthritis of the right hip.  While I had been experiencing hip pain for a number of years it was not until December 12, 1999 that I finally learned I had extensive cartilage loss and would soon have to decide whether I would have my right hip replaced.  While partially caused by genetics, I have to believe that a number of athletic injuries, principally fom running, finally led to the deterioration of the cartlidge I now  experienced.

While Bikram's Yoga could not turn back the effects of time (I am 54 years old) I give it total credit for preparing me physically, mentally, emotionally and spirtitually for total hip replacement surgery that I would have on March 28.  From the time I was fully aware of the extent of my condition until the night before my surgery, I continued with my yoga practice. 

There were more than a few times between December 12 and March 28 that I wanted to quit.  It was very difficult for me to feel the loss of my flexibility and strength, not to mention the pain associated with many of the postures.  But while I now found myself modifying several of the poses and at times having to sit down, I continued to focus on all the positive benefits I had received from Bikram's Yoga over the 3 1/2 years I had been practicing.  It was this focus coupled with the ever present support of my wife Sally that kept me coming back week after week.  My last practice on March 27 was the best practice I had experienced for over 4 months and was a fitting salute to the yoga practice I had enjoyed so much. 

Initially my Doctor's treatment plan was for me to simply take pain medication.  I never directly discussed with him whether I should continue my yoga practice.  That decision as well as the decision to have the surgery was mine alone. As for long term loss, time will tell. As you probably know, most people who have total hip replacement surgery are advised to avoid any form of exercise that places them at risk of dislocating their hip. My intention is to review my yoga practice with my doctor to determine those poses I may not be able to perform at all and those poses I may be able to modify to obtain the continuing benefits of Bikram's Yoga.

Specific Improvements:

My surgery was a success. It took only 1 1/2 hours. I was up and walking the next day and was home by Saturday April 1. People continue to be amazed at how good I looked and how quickly my recovery process is going. My expectations are I will continue to improve and have set December 28 as the date I will return to Kevin Cooke's Yoga College of India studio in Seattle, WA.



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