How hip replacement changes after a decade: Eric’s story

eric pettigrew patient London Hip Unit.jpg

We often hear about continuous improvements in the field of medicine; from patient experience to technical capabilities, there’s almost no facet of healthcare that remains unaffected. Eric has had two hip replacements in his life, about a decade apart, and he’s been impressed by the change in the experience. 

Eric was an HCA UK patient for both his surgeries. “I had my first hip replacement a long time ago now,” he says, “and I have nothing but good things to say about it. I recovered well and have had 12 years of pain-free tennis because of it. But I tell you now, the healing and recovery this time around has been nothing short of staggering. 

“There was no question of me wanting to go with anyone but HCA UK after my first experience, but my original surgeon was no longer as available. So, I looked around, did my research, and I found someone who had actually been trained by my original surgeon. He was pioneering a new technique that was supposed to be transformative to recovery times for hip replacements, and I wanted to stay active, so I booked an appointment.

“Even with everything I knew from the experience of my last surgery going so well, I didn’t really believe that I’d be walking the next day. When the surgery team mentioned ‘next day’ I thought they were saying it to just show it would be fast. I think it took me a while to really get my mobility back last time, so I was just prepared for the long haul.”

Eric had private insurance through his work, but as he was approaching retirement from his career in financial services, he wanted to have the surgery while he was still covered by his work policy. He’d always been active, even with his career, so his mobility was important to him. He didn’t want to lose it or face a long wait for treatment after his retirement. He figured he could put the time into his recovery now so it would pay off in retirement later, and he scheduled his surgery for September 2022. 

Eventually, Eric went from playing tennis frequently – and playing well – to barely being able to put his socks and shoes on in the morning. The pain was becoming unmanageable, and the pain in his hip made walking difficult – he couldn’t even think about doing the sports he loved. 

“I took supplements, did pre-operative exercises and practiced a new type of breathing that helped manage the pain leading up to the surgery. I was doing my part.” And, he says, the orthopaedic team did theirs. “From the second I went in to the second I left it was like a finely tuned Swiss watch. And I soon found out they weren’t overselling the benefits of the new technique for the hip replacement. I was up the next day, just like they’d said, moving about with just one crutch. I couldn’t believe it,” Eric laughs, shaking his head. 

“I can’t describe the difference after that surgery. The day before my pain was at a nine out of ten. I couldn’t bend my leg more than 45 degrees. Afterwards, sure there was pain from the surgery, but the pain from my hip was gone. It was such a relief.” 

Eric’s recovery went well, aided by physios and a specific exercise programme tailored for hip rehabilitation that included weights, bands, and aqua aerobics. Five months after his hip replacement, he was back on the tennis court in Surrey, with surprisingly little loss in effectiveness. 

“I’ve run out of hips to have replaced now, but if I feel anything else start to go, I won’t tolerate the pain unnecessarily.” His previous two surgeries were paid for by his company’s insurance policy, but Eric says that the price of the surgery is something he’d be willing to pay himself. “It was worth it. Getting my mobility back and living life free from pain – it’s been such a relief.” 
Eric was operated on by Jonathan Hutt, a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon who specialises purely in hip surgery. He is a member of The London Hip Unit and is based at The Princess Grace Hospital, part of HCA Healthcare UK. He is an expert in advanced joint preservation techniques as well as total hip replacement using the direct anterior approach (DAA). He works with specialist anaesthetists using enhanced recovery techniques to improve post operative rehabilitation for his patients. 

Find out more about our hip joint treatments

This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.