Yvette's story: From back pain to hip replacement surgery

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Yvette (54) a journalist from Kent, started experiencing pain in her hip seven years ago in 2015. An ex-national gymnast who had been incredibly active and flexible her whole life, enjoying everything from fly fishing to pole dancing in her spare time, Yvette felt concerned about the growing discomfort impacting her quality of life, and so sought help from her GP.

Yvette’s GP referred her to a consultant who believed the pain stemmed from her back – and so gave her a local injection for the pain. Scans then revealed issues with both her back and hips, and Yvette was told she would definitely need hip replacement surgery in the coming years.

"To hear that was quite a shock – I’d always been flexible and active, I didn’t anticipate needing hip replacement surgery, especially in my forties. I thought it could be related to the hip dysplasia I was born with – which meant that I walked with a splint for a time as a child."

Seeking a second opinion

Concerned by this news, Yvette sought a second opinion, and in doing her own research came across Orthopaedic Surgeon Mr Hugh Apthorp – who was not only a leading hip replacement surgeon, but also an expert in hip dysplasia. Confident he would be able to give her sound advice, Yvette booked a consultation with Mr Apthorp in November 2015. In the consultation, Mr Apthorp told Yvette, "You don’t need a hip replacement yet, but you’ll know when you do."

Mr Apthorp comments, "Yvette still was managing to continue enjoying her various sports at that time, but it was obvious she was heading towards needing intervention. When to operate is a very personal choice and I usually find patients will manage for a while with physio and analgesics. However, one day most patients will wake up and feel that they have had enough – that is the right time to operate".

Yvette said, "I thought this advice was a little odd at the time, but I came to realise it was completely true. When you walk around each day, you’re in pain, but then you sit down and you’re fine. You start walking and then you’re in pain again. When it’s time to seek a hip replacement, the length of time you’re walking is far shorter, and length of time you need to be sat down is much longer."

On Yvette’s case, Mr Apthorp comments; "Yvette was born with hip dysplasia - a condition that affects 1 to 2 of every 1,000 babies - where they are born with slightly abnormally shaped hips. Abnormally shaped hips are much more likely to wear out earlier than normal shaped hips and therefore patients with hip dysplasia tend to come to surgery earlier. Quite frequently they will have had treatment as a child which can make surgery more complicated because of deformity and scarring - and therefore the treatment of the hip dysplasia is quite a specialist area of hip replacement surgery."

Hip replacement surgery

Fast forward to May 2021, Yvette was in considerable pain and struggling to do anything active, including her favourite hobby, pole dancing - which was hard for her to come to terms with. Yvette knew it was time to visit Mr Apthorp again, now based at London Bridge Hospital (part of HCA Healthcare UK) which is widely considered a centre of excellence for orthopaedic surgery. Mr Apthorp informed Yvette that it was now indeed time to undergo a hip replacement. The operation was scheduled for the end of June 2021.

Yvette said "Coincidentally, my father underwent a hip replacement at London Bridge Hospital in his eighties, and had a great experience, so I felt like I was in really good hands from the outset."

On preparing for her surgery, Yvette said: "Mr Apthorp was quite remarkable, he told me about these special methods that were really easy to follow. For example, he taught me to walk on crutches BEFORE surgery, which makes perfect sense - but is actually quite unusual to be taught."

Yvette’s surgery was a success, and Mr Apthorp was very pleased with the outcome. 

Mr Apthorp comments: "Seeing Yvette’s recovery was inspirational. She shows what is possible with modern hip replacement techniques. Her positive proactive positive approach made such a difference to her recovery. It’s been wonderful to help her achieve her goals."


On her recovery, Yvette said: "After my surgery, Mr Apthorp told me pretty much straight away ‘you’re fine to walk’ and so I trusted that was true - and I walked! I only used two crutches on day one, but after that was able to walk fine with one crutch. I was walking around the garden barefoot in just a few days! "

"When I first learnt that I’d need a hip replacement, I was so worried I wouldn’t be able to enjoy my hobbies, particularly pole dancing, post-surgery. I’d started learning back in back in 2010 and loved it, especially as an ex-gymnast. Another hobby of mine, fly fishing, involves a lot of climbing up and down banks and wading through water – so that was another concern. Luckily, I’ve gained full mobility back and can maintain my active lifestyle. It makes me far less worried about going back for my second hip replacement in the next couple of years."

"London Bridge Hospital were brilliant - all nurses were superb, and Mr Apthorp is an incredible surgeon. I said to him ‘Don’t you dare retire until I’ve had the other one done!’. My advice to others in similar positions is go out of your way to do research and find the right person – I’m so glad that I did."

Mr Apthorp concludes: "It’s vital that anyone in a similar position as Yvette seeks advice from a specialist if they have any concerning symptoms that they’d like investigated – and ensure that the surgeon performing any resulting surgeries has the expertise to treat complex conditions and can offer personalised treatment plan depending on their individual needs."

Find out more about Orthopaedics at HCA UK 

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