It seems that star athletes who have had hip replacements – rather than television and screen stars – are more inclined to admit they had surgery.
Professional sports athletes train and play hard and push their bodies to new heights. Hours of training and practice can put strain on and further damage joints already damaged by arthritis.
Many of these fine athletes are spokespersons for different organizations and hip replacement manufacturers.
You will find some inspiration, encouragement, and sound words of advice from several of their stories.
Bo Jackson – Former Baseball and Football All-Star
Bo Jackson was an all-star in both football and baseball. He received the collegiate football honor of the Heisman Trophy in 1985.
Jackson’s hip was injured in January 1991 during a game between the Cincinnati Bengals and his team, the Oakland Raiders.
In an injury called hip subluxation, Jackson was tackled and reported he felt his hip pop out and then back in to its socket. As a result, Jackson developed Osteonecrosis or Avascular Necrosis. This disease limits blood supply to the femoral ball causing the ball of the femur to break down.
Bo had a total hip replacement and never returned to football. He focused on baseball the year after his hip replacement, and his replacement failed the following year. He required a revision, which knocked him out of sports all together.
Some might call Bo Jackson the poster child of hip replacements as his injury and operation brought focus to the procedure. It also showed hip replacements were not just for old, but for those whose quality of life is limited by injury or disease.
Mike Ditka – Former Football Player and Former Coach of the Chicago Bears
In 1992, Mike Ditka underwent his second total hip replacement for his left hip, having had the right total replaced eight years prior.
Ditka has arthritis which caused deterioration of the hip joint, requiring the surgery. At the time he was the football coach for the Chicago Bears, and had his surgery during the Bears off season.
Coach K, Mike Krzyzewski – Duke University and Former U.S. Olympic Basketball Coach
Mike Krzyzewski, more commonly known as ‘Coach K,’ had his hip replacement in 1999, five years after he was operated on for chronic back pain. He was 51 at the time.
The Duke University men’s basketball coach has the most wins of any college basketball coach ever. Krzyzewski also coached the 2008 and 2012 U.S. Olympic Team.
Coach K developed severe groin pain. After visiting a specialist, he found the pain was caused by osteoarthritis of the hip.
A common theme with many, including myself, fear of the operation and a foreign object in his body kept Coach K living with pain and avoiding a procedure. He thought he could be tough through the pain.
He regretted his decision to postpone surgery.
The constant pain took its toll, though. Krzyzewski said, “You become a little bit of a different person because you’re always tired and you’re always distracted by the pain,”
In the 1998-1999 season, he blamed himself and the pain for the Duke Blue Devil’s loss to the UConn Huskies in NCAA Championship saying, “I didn’t give my team what they needed I thought at the end.”
After the games that season, he decided to have his left hip replaced. Three years later, he had his right hip replaced. He now reports he is pain free.
Now a paid spokesperson for Depuy Orthopedics, Inc, a subsidiary of Johnson and Johnson and manufacturer of artificial hips, Krzyzewski was part of a campaign to promote hip replacement surgeries. Called, ‘Had I Known Then…,’ the campaign publishes letters from people who had hip replacement surgeries and benefited from a joint replacement.
The author, Ellyn Spragins, of ‘Had I Known Then…,’ comments, “When we are in pain, this not only takes a toll on our ability to do our jobs and pursue activities we love — it also erodes our happiness, relationships and, sometimes, our sense of who we are.”
Although I don’t endorse specific hip replacement implants on this blog, the Had I Known Then… site is inspirational and worth the read, especially Krzyzewski’s letter and account.
At 68, Coach K now reports he is in great shape and pain free. He coached three national championship teams since having both hips replaced.
Hulk Hogan – American Professional Wrestler, Actor, Television Personality
Terry Gene Bollea, better known as his wrestling name Hulk Hogan, lists hip replacement in both hips among his many orthopedic surgeries.
Hulk Hogan seems proud of his surgeries and some were recorded for his reality show, Hogan Knows Best.
Hulk Hogan’s first hip replacement was in 2004. In 2012 it was reported he had more work done on one or both of his hips.
Lou Ferrigno – Actor and Former Body Builder
Lou Ferrigno played the lead character in television’s ‘The Incredible Hulk.’ He held the International Federation of Body Builders’ Mr. America title and two consecutive Mr. Universe titles.
Mr Ferrigno said he had hip replacements due to many years of heavy training.
In 2009 TMZ Online reported he had his last hip replacement surgery performed in anticipation of being a contestant on Dancing with the Stars. But after the surgery, Mr Ferrigno said the “Dancing” people “blew him off” and he was never officially invited to do the show.
Mary Lou Retton – Former Gold Medalist Olympic Gymnast
Mary Lou Retton earned five gold medals during the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, California. Unknown at the time, Mary Lou suffered from hip dysplasia – an abnormality she was born with.
At age 36, Mary Lou started having hip pain, and her doctor prescribed pain killers. She later discussed her options with orthopedic surgeon Brian S. Parsley M.D who suggested she need a hip replacement. Like me, she told the orthopedist she was not ready for the surgery. Her doctors told her she would be back.
Many of the same things that went through my mind went through Mary Lou’s. She didn’t fear surgery, as she had been through many, but it was the fear of the unknown that bothered her. She feared the success of her outcome, whether she would be able to work out afterward, and what would be her range of motion.
A year later she returned to Dr. Parsley, ready for the operation. Her pain had increased and she hoped to return to a normal lifestyle. It took her that year from her first visit to her orthopedic surgeon to become psychologically prepared for the operation.
Ms. Retton had hip replacement surgery in June 2005. She was able to return to her workout routine three months after surgery with full range of motion. Additionally she was able to enjoy normal activities with her husband and four daughters
Mary Lou will need another hip replaced, due to her hip dysplasia. She admitted he won’t wait as long for the next surgery.
Jack Nicklaus – Professional Golfer and Golf Course Designer
Jack Nicklaus, is a world champion golfer and designed many championship golf courses around the world.
“The Golden Bear” was 23 years old when he injured his hip in 1963. Doctors treated him with cortisone injections. The injections reduced his pain enough for him to focus on his game where he became one of the most successful and prominent golfers in the world.
Nicklaus’ hip injury evolved into osteoarthritis and he sought the advice of physiologist Pete Egoscue (author of the book “Pain Free”). Mr. Nicklaus dedicated himself to the exercise plan Pete Egoscue’s tailored for him and continued to play through the pain and his deteriorating joint.
Nicklaus continued to play well through his osteoarthritis achieving Player of the Century and Player of the Millennium by major golf publications. Finally, his hip pain forced him to withdraw from the 1998 British Open.
Jack was exhausted from the pain of daily living with constant hip pain. He tried to make a comeback, but his hip got the better of him.
Jack Nicklaus had hip replacement surgery in 1999 with a vision of returning to golf, and a desire to continue an active life with his wife, children, and grandchildren.
Jack was back on the golf course after an aggressive rehabilitation program.
In 2005, Jack Nicklaus played his final British Open, Masters Tournament and led the U.S. to a President’s Cup win. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom that same year.
Jack’s advice to those who might be facing a hip replacement:
“Do as much functional exercise as you can to get yourself as strong as you can get, no matter what you do. I think that’s common sense. When you have to have surgery, you have it.”
Rudy Galindo – Former Olympic Skater
Rudy Galindo is a U.S. figure skater who competed in both single and pair skating. He was male single champion in the 1996 U.S.Championship and 1987 Junior Championship, and won a bronze medal in the 1996 World Championship. He competed in pairs skating with Kristi Yamaguchi where they won the 1988 Junior Championship and the 1989 and 1990 U.S. National Championship.
In 2002, Galindo was diagnosed with avascular necrosis. He performed in Tom Collins’ Champions on Ice and Elvis (Stojko) Tour in Canada in 2003 and finished the season with a broken femur caused by the degeneration of his bone from the disease.
In 2003, Galindo underwent hip replacement surgery on his left hip. Less than six weeks later, he received the surgery on his right hip. He decided to have ceramic-on-ceramic implants which had just been approved by the FDA in February of that year.
Ceramic-on-ceramic implants provide better range of motion and less chance of dislocation than other types of implants. Ceramic-on-ceramic implants wear less and the life expectancy of the implant is longer.
Immediately after the first surgery, Rudy began rehabilitation and was on the ice a few weeks after the second surgery.
He was in the 2004 Champions on Ice Tour where he performed the difficult triple jumps. He finished the two tours of Champions on Ice that year without pain.
Galindo coaches at the San Jose Sharks Ice Rink (Logitech Ice).
He was inducted into the San Jose Sports Hall of Fame in 2011 and the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame in December 2012.
Conclusion and Engagement
These are just a few of the stories of athletes who have had hip replacement surgery. Several of them endured extraordinary pain and dealt with some of the same fears you and I have or had about surgery and its outcomes.
I hope we can learn some lessons and strength from some of these stories and realize hip replacement surgery can be life-changing, and in many cases, help the recipient live a long and productive life. Many continued on in their athletic careers and roles, or enjoyed active lives with the children and grandchildren.
Have you been inspired from someone else’s hip replacement story? Please share your own story or one you have read about. It might help someone who has their own fears regarding hip replacement surgery.
If you would like to see more posts like this one, please consider reading the following:
Resources in This Post
About .com: Bo Jackson – Hip Subluxation
Regressing Deadspin.com: Could Modern Medicine Have Saved Bo Jackson’s Career?
Chicago Tribune: Bears’ Ditka Undergoes Second Hip Replacement
Weebly.com: Hulk Hogan Hospital History
Southern Chiropractic Association: Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno Note Importance of Chiropractic
TMZ Online: Lou Ferrigno — Too Hip To Park
Biomet.com: Mary Lou Retton
American Arthritis Society: A Patient’s Experience with Arthritis, Mr. Jack Nicklaus
Egoscue Inc.: A Revolutionary Method for Stopping Chronic Pain
This Hips for You.com: Rudy Galindo Bi-Lat Ceramic-on-Ceramic Hip Replacement
US Figure Skating: Rudy Galindo Undergoes Hip Surgery
Rudy Galindo.com: More About Rudy
Wikipedia: Rudy Galindo