Mary Ann's Story

Local Woman Returns to Her Active Lifestyle After Hip Replacement Makes Pain a Distant Memory

At age 75, Mary Ann Surtz leads an active lifestyle that might challenge a much younger person. She serves as board treasurer for the Wickliffe Senior Center and cleans at her chapel on Friday mornings. She demonstrates a 1901 sewing machine at The Little Red Schoolhouse in Willoughby for area fourth-graders. The hands-on field trip transports the children to the early 1900s, providing an educational curriculum that includes period attire, cooking, and – Surtz’s area of expertise – quilt-making.

She does not have time for a cane, or a walker, or the pain and over-the-counter medicines used to minimize it.

Today, Surtz’s pain is a distant memory. Fully recovered from a total hip replacement in January 2012 at University Hospitals Richmond Medical Center, a Campus of UH Regional Hospitals, she has regained a natural stride and a pain-free life.

Treating the Pain

Robert Corn, MDM, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon and director of Orthopedics, says when it comes to bone and joint health, UH Richmond Medical Center offers the same expertise as bigger hospitals but closer to home.

Two of the most common procedures performed at UH Richmond Medical Center are hip and knee joint replacements. In Surtz’s case, degenerative arthritis wore out her hip joint’s cartilage, causing bone to rub on bone. Because one leg was 3/4 inch shorter than the other, she adopted a swaying walk to compensate.

“Unfortunately, there is no medicine to stop arthritic progression. Once the cartilage is damaged and fails, we have to go to a nonbiologic [artificial] replacement,” Dr. Corn says. That means joint replacement surgery.

UH Richmond Medical Center also offers standard and reverse total shoulder replacements, although these are less common because shoulders experience less wear and tear than hips and knees. Nonsurgical treatments for arthritis, sports injuries and a variety of other orthopedic concerns are also available.

If pain limits your daily activities, Dr. Corn says it is time to see an orthopedic specialist.

“When you can’t walk, it makes life absolutely miserable because you have pain with every step you take,” he says. “Joint replacements are very successful in alleviating this pain and restoring an active lifestyle.”

Rehab and Recovery

Orthopedic treatment or surgery is the first step toward regaining normal joint function. Rehabilitation from experienced physical therapists is next.

“Dr. Corn was amazing. He adjusted my hip so that my legs were the same length again,” Surtz said. But it was her physical therapists who perfected her walk: “They taught me how to walk with a nice, straight stride. I hadn’t walked like that in a while.”

“At UH Richmond Medical Center, our physical therapists work closely with each patient to create a fully customized play for recovery,” says Brian Adams, manager of Rehabilitation Services. “Because each patient is different with a unique medical history and varying lifestyle demands, we don’t use a “one size fits all” approach to therapy.”

Surtz can attest to that.

“I worked one-on-one with two different therapists. They perfected everything,” she said. “Some of the exercises are very difficult. You have to keep strengthening your muscles around the new joint, muscles that have been weak from lack of use. But they know what they are doing. Now, I have perfect balance and am better than ever.”

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