New hip brings new lease of life
Replacement When British dualthete Michael Rix was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in 2011, the 40-year-old feared he’d never race again. Five years on and Michael is back to his winning ways.
When Michael felt a ‘niggly pain’ in his left hip in 2011, he put it down to over training. “Osteoarthritis was the last thing I imagined it would be,” says Michael, an elite athlete who competes across the world. “It’s one of those diseases you associate with old age and ill health, where as I was fitter than I’d ever been. I was told I needed a hip replacement and might only be able to run one or two miles. For someone who’s used to running 120 miles a week, it was devastating.”
Putting off the inevitable
As Michael sat in the hospital trying to process the news, all he could think about was getting as many races under his belt as he could. “I just thought I’d get the maximum I could out of my hip before it went,” he says. “I even managed another marathon. But I was surviving on 240mg of codeine a day. I was in agony.”
Osteoarthritis causes the joints to become painful as cartilage around the bone wears away. By the time Michael had surgery in July 2013, the cartilage was completely gone and his bones were rubbing directly against each other. Even as he lay in the operating theatre, Michael was still thinking about running. “I’d managed to complete 99 Park Runs before the op and I couldn’t help wishing I’d made it to 100,” he says with a smile.
Back to winning ways
Michael sought the help of consultant orthopaedic surgeon Mr Kerry Acton to plan his strategy back to fitness. In the past patients diagnosed with osteoarthritis would have been encouraged to put their feet up and hold out for an operation in their 70s. But things have progressed so much that, with improved prosthetics and better aftercare, patients can expect a full recovery. As a result, more and more people are seeking surgery early and Michael is living proof of its success.
With this help of his partner, who is a physiotherapist, Michael was off crutches in seven days, back on a static bike two weeks later and kayaking four weeks after the operation. 12 weeks later he astonished everyone by winning first place at the Dorney Lake Supersprint Triathlon.
“I was fully expecting the hip to feel heavy and clunky, but I can honestly say it feels better than ever,” says Michael. “It’s not just given me my life back – it’s given me a new, improved life. I recently completed a 10k race just two seconds off my personal best I set nine years ago!”
Perhaps Michael’s greatest achievement since his operation was at the world Duathlon Championships in Adelaide, Australia, last October. Michael brought home the silver medal for Great Britain after battling it out against some of the best athletes from across the world in his age group.
“I know I’ll need to get my right hip done at some point, but I certainly won’t leave it as long as I did last time,” Michael says knowingly. “In the mean time, Michael’s got his eye set on winning more medals and is on course to complete his 200th Park Run.