It began as a nagging.
“I started feeling pain in my groin when I was 42,” says legendary jockey, Carlos Silva. He’s won more than 4,000 races during his 32-year long career.
The pain caused Silva, now 59, to see a doctor who told him he needed to hang up his uniform, retire from racing and get a hip replacement. But, for Silva, giving up riding wasn’t an option, so he kept on riding through the pain.
“I had two kids in college,” he says. “I had to keep riding. I had to work. There was no way I could retire.”
The pain worsened, forcing him to ride less often. He was no longer able to go for a walk or get a good night’s sleep. When he turned 50, he could barely ride his horse, but he pushed through the pain, taking painkillers regularly and riding for three more years.
A friend told Silva about Dr. Ritesh Shah, an orthopedic surgeon on staff at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill.
“I went to see Dr. Shah and he told me I needed a total hip replacement, but he never told me I had to stop horseback riding,” says Silva. “He told me I would get back on my horse in time.”
Dr. Shah says Silva was dealing with a number of issues.
“When Carlos came to see me, he was in severe pain,” says Dr. Shah. “His riding was limited, and he walked with a severe limp. Arthritis wore out his hip and one of his legs was slightly shorter as a result.”
Three days after his appointment, Silva had minimally invasive total hip replacement. This kind of surgery is performed through a 2.5 to 4 inch incision and takes less than an hour. Because it is a minimally invasive surgery, the recovery is usually very fast.
Just two weeks after the operation and physical therapy, Silva was pain-free and almost completely recovered.
“Hey doc, what’s up with my leg? It’s not short anymore! It’s perfect now,” he recalled saying to Dr. Shah at his follow-up appointment.
Dr. Shah wanted to see Silva in action, post-operation.
“I went to the Arlington Park racetrack a few months later,” says Dr. Shah. “I saw Carlos. He rode his horse and easily walked without a limp all over the racetrack and grounds. His wife was ecstatic and told me how great it was to have her husband back. Other jockeys were also happy to see Carlos without pain.”
Silva still enjoys riding his horse every morning.
“The best thing is that I am a new person now,” says Silva. “Life without pain allows me to do things that I love – ride my horse, go for a bike ride or enjoy a nice walk with my wife of 34 years and my grandchildren. Dr. Shah gave me my life back. I wish I met him a long time ago.”
Arthritis can start developing at any age, even in one’s 20s, 30s or 40s. If a person feels pain, Dr. Shah recommends visiting a qualified orthopedic surgeon for an evaluation.
“Although it has great outcomes presently, hip replacement surgery is usually the last resort,” says Dr. Shah. “If you see an appropriate orthopedic doctor early enough, there are things such as hip arthroscopy that could be done to help you take care of your hips and prevent arthritis from happening. But, if you need a hip replacement, our outcomes currently are phenomenal.”