By Alyce Collins
THIS WOMAN was told she was ‘TOO YOUNG’ for a hip replacement despite not being able to get OUT OF BED unassisted but after pushing doctors for surgery she was finally given the procedure that made her feel like a twenty-something again – and she says surgery like this should be available regardless of age.
Technical services customer coordinator, Loretta Hood (28) from Leicester, UK, was nine months old when her parents started to think something was wrong with her leg as she showed signs of pain and as she learned to walk, she would drag her left leg behind her.
Upon referral to an orthopaedics department, Loretta was put in traction for three weeks, meaning her legs were hung up to keep them apart, before she could have an operation. Loretta was diagnosed with congenital dislocation of the left hip, caused by developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH), where the ball and socket of the hip don’t form correctly.
At a year old, Loretta had surgery to place the ball of her hip back into the socket, followed by another surgery shortly after to place metal plates in her hip. The plates were removed 12 months later, requiring further surgery.
For 12 years, Loretta didn’t experience any further issues and was able to start dancing at five years old. In 2004, Loretta began experiencing a ‘clicky knee’, her knee would often dislocate, and her leg locked if she sat in one position for too long.
In 2011, Loretta was diagnosed with arthritis at 20, despite initially being told to expect this diagnosis in her forties. By 2016, Loretta needed help to get out of bed as she couldn’t get herself up, leading her to try a steroid injection in her hip to ease the pain.
By 2017, after a top-up steroid injection wore off, Loretta had another surgery to remove the hip from its socket and uncover the problem. Surgeons were shocked to find that the inner joint was deteriorating, and a total hip replacement was suggested. Unfortunately, doctors insisted that Loretta was ‘too young’ for a hip replacement, despite the recommendation.
After pushing for surgery due to her constant pain, Loretta had a left hip replacement on November 23, 2018, at just 28, which has since transformed her life.
“Between nine and 12 months old, my mum took me to the doctors because she knew something wasn’t right with my left leg,” said Loretta.
“I was in pain and had started to drag it behind when I was walking. After many appointments, I was referred to orthopaedics, where I underwent my first operation.
“I had hip reduction surgery to place the ball back into the socket, before another operation where they broke the bones to put metal plates in the leg.
“After a year, the metal plates were removed, and I was left with two large scars down my leg. For many years after, I didn’t experience any further issues with my left hip or my leg.
“Then in 2004, I noticed some pain and I began to experience a ‘clicky knee’ and my knee began to dislocate. I didn’t realise it was connected to my hip at the time. My knee dislocated quite frequently, but after the third time, the hospital showed me how to push my own knee back in.
“It happened repeatedly before I was referred back to orthopaedics. I had to give up dancing because this was putting more strain on the hip and in turn the left leg and knee.
“I was experiencing deep pains in the bone, sharp twinges, arthritic pain and clicking. My leg would often get stuck, and if I was on my own, I would have to try and crawl out of the position I was in.
“In 2011, it was recognised that I had the early signs of arthritis in the hip and the joint was becoming worn. I had my first steroid injection in the hip which gave me about 18 months of movement and decreased the pain, but it slowly crept back.
“I got so used to the pain that I was living with daily. It meant I couldn’t do normal things like long walks, running, skiing or go on nights out. My boyfriend would have to help me out of bed and out of the bath which wasn’t ideal.
“The steroid injection wore off by 2014 and I couldn’t fulfil everyday activities as I would often get stuck in positions again with my hip locking. I had to have another injection but that wore off even quicker.
“In 2017, I was referred for a hip arthroscopy, which involved the surgeon removing the hip from the socket to see the extent of damage. The inner joint was damaged and wearing away and there were signs of arthritis.
“Scans couldn’t show the extent of this, so it was quite eye opening to understand the reason behind the extreme pain I was feeling. The surgeon confirmed that the hip was far too damaged, and the only solution was a hip replacement.
“I was sent back to orthopaedics and they wanted to wait before offering me a hip replacement, deeming me ‘too young’. I was adamant that I wanted the surgery, especially since the specialist said it was my only option.
“I felt angry and defeated. It was so frustrating that the expert had been inside my leg and seen the extent of the damage, and said a hip replacement was the only solution, but he was dismissed by others because of my age.
“I was given another steroid injection in December 2017, but it had no effect. Then, they finally referred me to a new specialist, who specialised in young adult hip replacements, and he agreed that I needed surgery.”
After pushing for surgery, the hip replacement took place in November 2018 and was followed by a gruelling 12-week recovery process without showering, bending or stretching. After four months, she was able to get back in the gym gradually.
Loretta had to push to be permitted surgery, but she hopes that she can encourage others not to be refuted by professionals if they feel they aren’t being heard.
“I’m no longer in pain like before. It’s still a new hip and it will take some time to settle in and there are still certain restrictions, but ultimately, to be pain free is amazing,” said Loretta.
“Recovery was painful, and I couldn’t go to the toilet on my own without crying in pain. I had to have a special toilet seat fitted in my bathroom and we had to adapt the sofa as I couldn’t sit on any seating less than 17.5 inches from the ground, to avoid the new joint dislocating.
“I couldn’t shower, I had to wear surgical stockings for six weeks and there was the traumatic experience of having the 24 staples out.
“After eight weeks, it started to turn around once the pain started to subside. Since then, I’ve made great progress as I’ve been determined to get fitter and get back to normal.
“My physio supported me, and I was back in the gym in April, doing steady exercises. I’m so happy I had the operation when I did, it has absolutely changed my life. I would recommend this to anybody who is younger and needs the surgery.
“Regardless of age, it’s important to push for surgery when you feel you need it, rather than waiting years to be considered old enough. The recovery is hard, but in the long term it’s only a snippet of your life and the transformation of my life has been amazing.
“To be pain-free feels incredible and it’s only now that that I really understand the extent of what I was putting up with.”
To see more, visit www.instagram.com/girl.glutenfree