As a Chicago firefighter and avid athlete, Joe Simz was used to aches and pains. But, at the age of 42 he began experiencing a shooting pain in the pivot point of his hip joint and groin.
At first, the pain only happened when he would sit down or stand up. As the pain worsened, Simz would stand all the time, even during meals to avoid the pain. At this point, he knew he had a serious problem.
Simz began seeing a physical therapist who recommended he build up the muscles in his hip to relieve the pain. The more he worked the muscle the more pain he felt. Next, he tried a cortisone shot, but it only worked for about a week before the pain resurfaced.
He began researching other options, which led him to Dr. Ritesh Shah, an orthopedic surgeon at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill.
After examining Simz’s hip, Dr. Shah decided hip surgery was necessary.
“Had I met Joe earlier when his pain first started, before developing arthritis, I could have performed outpatient hip arthroscopy surgery using a camera through two small incisions and repaired his hip to prevent or prolong arthritis from forming,” says Dr. Shah. “But, when I first met Joe, he had severe hip arthritis, was very active and had strong bones, so we discussed hip resurfacing versus hip replacement surgery.”
During hip resurfacing, the femoral head, which is the ball like part of the hip, is not removed like it would be during a total hip replacement. Instead, it is trimmed and capped with a smooth metal covering. The damaged bone and cartilage within the socket are removed and replaced with a metal shell, just as in a traditional total hip replacement.
After a successful surgery, Simz recovered quickly. He was walking without a cane within days, and three months after the surgery he returned to full active duty as a firefighter. Just four months out, he and his partner carried a 300-pound man down three flights of stairs.
“It’s great to see that more than just his hip, his overall quality of life is improved,” says Dr. Shah. “There are many options for patients with hip pain and I am happy that together we chose a hip resurfacing for Joe so he can continue help save lives and maintain an active life.”