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Teri’s story: Thriving with both hips replaced

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

By: Jeff Ash

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Teri Wallenfang loves to walk the trails of the Cofrin Arboretum at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. But there was a time that her hip caused her so much pain that she couldn’t.


Since then, Dr. Michael Schnaubelt, an orthopedic surgeon with Orthopedics & Sports Medicine BayCare Clinic, has replaced both of Wallenfang’s hips.


“I would walk at least three or four times a week,” Wallenfang says. “When it starts hurting, there’s no way. I remember towards the end, I was making it like a mile and I’d have to turn around and come back because I was thinking ‘I’m not gonna make it home. I’m gonna have to crawl.’”


That was before Wallenfang’s first hip replacement procedure in 2013. The second one followed just before Christmas in 2016.


“I have none of the pain that I had before,” she says.


Each of Wallenfang’s hips posed a different problem.


She walked 15,000 to 20,000 steps a day while working in quality control in a Green Bay mill. The cement floors took their toll. Wallenfang was only in her mid-50s, but arthritis was setting in.


“It was almost like my leg was dragging,” she says. “I would have groin pain, too. I just thought I pulled something. I put it off for probably six months to a year before I was like, well, this isn’t getting any better.”


Schnaubelt recommended anterior hip replacement surgery, which accesses the hip joint from the front. Gluteal muscles aren’t cut as in a posterior hip replacement, resulting in faster healing and less pain.


“I liked the idea of a lot smaller scar, a lot less recovery time, so it seemed like a win-win,” Wallenfang says.


Within hours of surgery, Wallenfang was walking. Within three weeks, life was largely back to normal.


“I couldn’t walk five miles right away, but I could still walk quite far. I could go shopping. I could do all my normal stuff,” she says.


BayCare Clinic hip replacement patient


The second time around, Wallenfang had a tear in the labrum, the cartilage around the outside rim of the hip socket, and a ganglion cyst in the hip region.


“I had a pain in the butt,” she says. “It was almost like a shooting pain in my butt, where the other was more of a constant ache later on in the day. This one was more intense pain.”


Wallenfang visited a Milwaukee doctor who specialized in labrum surgery. His advice surprised her.


“He recommended not fixing the labrum tear, that I should just have the total hip replacement like I had on my first one. Lot of times you’re going to end up needing one anyway,” she says.


So Wallenfang returned home, and Schnaubelt performed a second hip replacement procedure, which resolved both the labrum tear and the ganglion cyst.


“When I found out I needed another hip, I was definitely going to go with that anterior procedure again because it was so successful,” she says.


Recovery from the second hip replacement procedure was “a lot faster than the first one,” Wallenfang says. For that, she credits yoga.


“I think that doing yoga has made this second hip even more successful than my first,” she says. “I could do the steps three, four days after (surgery). I can do them normally. I can bend down and touch my toes. I can go up and down. Those are things you just kind of take for granted.”


Dr. Michael Schnaubelt sees patients in Green Bay and Shawano. Call 920-288-5555 in Green Bay or 877-844-8796 in Shawano or request an appointment online.

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