As a coach, I find myself on my feet for a good portion of the day but earlier in my career, pain from osteoarthritis (OA) was jeopardizing my ability to do my job. About 20 years ago, I first started to feel pain and discomfort in my left hip, which was bothersome and only worsened over the years. By the time I was finally ready to do something about it, I was walking with a limp and coaching games from a chair. The pain was becoming unbearable and I was actually contemplating an early retirement.
I considered having a hip replacement, but the thought of taking time off to have the surgery weighed heavily on me. Unfortunately, I soon found myself unable to perform at my best on the court because of the pain caused by my OA. Despite daily medications and physical therapy, I was left with deciding between surgery or quitting the career I loved. I finally made the decision to move forward with the surgery and had my left hip replaced in April 1999 with a DePuy Synthes Companies hip replacement. After two months of rehab, I was pleased I could get back to coaching and regular activities.
A couple of years later, I found myself experiencing similar symptoms in my right hip and didn’t take as long to consider my options. The surgery was a success and following my rehab program, I returned to my spot on the parquet. That same year, my team won our fifth consecutive ACC Tournament and we appeared in the NCAA Sweet 16® for the 6th season in a row. Had I not made the decision to move forward with joint replacement, I may have missed out on these experiences. Once you get the treatment that’s right for you, your mindset changes, you get a new perspective and you get your energy back.
I know similarly, there are many who suffer from debilitating knee pain which prevents them from doing the things they love. This month, I am teaming up with DePuy Synthes Companies to launch the Hardest Working Knees initiative, which brings awareness to the activities that can lead to worsening OA as well as some of the occupations where these activities are most prevalent. You can visit AllAboutKneePain.com to learn more about this initiative.
Looking back I wish I had made the decision to have surgery earlier because I was in so much pain and it drained me of so much energy when I could have been focusing on other important things in my life. If you have joint pain that is keeping you from doing the activities you love, it may be time to speak with an orthopedic doctor who can determine the best treatment options for you.
Coach K is a paid spokesperson for DePuy Synthes