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Mark Starck

Hip Replacement Gives Soldier a New Lease on Life

At 5-feet, 10-inches and 170 pounds, the physically fit U.S. Navy petty officer and former special education teacher was serving in Iraq and running half-marathons before debilitating hip pain interrupted his way of life.

“While I was in Iraq, my doctor gave me medication to relieve the pain in my left leg,” Mark recalled. “It worked for a while, but then the pain came back.”

Mark shrugged off his pain, thinking it was muscle strain. When he realized that the medicine his doctor prescribed for him wasn’t relieving his pain, he knew he had to do something. In February 2006, at age 47, Mark was referred to an orthopedic specialist at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic and underwent a total hip replacement.

Glenn C. Landon, M.D., chief of Orthopedics and medical director of specialties at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic, replaced Mark’s left hip joint with an artificial hip consisting of a highly durable, metal-lined socket. Dr. Landon is helping people like Mark get back on their feet—fully mobile and pain-free.

“Active, young people like Mark can benefit greatly from hip replacement surgery,” said Dr. Landon, who helped pioneer minimally invasive surgery in Houston in 2002. “A 50-year-old man doesn’t have to wait until he’s 60 to have hip replacement. Patients in their 20s, 30s and 40s can have greater life expectancy and have fewer limitations on what they can do.”

The results of Mark’s procedure were dramatic.

“Before the surgery, I felt really lousy. It hurt when I walked,” said Mark, who lives in Seabrook, Texas. “I felt much better immediately after the surgery and used a cane instead of a walker. The nurses told me I should slow down.”

Surgery didn’t stop the once-active soldier and schoolteacher. Five weeks after the surgery, Mark was recalled to Washington, D.C. to serve his country for five months.

A “Hip” Generation

Mark is in good company. He is one of hundreds of thousands of Americans, including celebrities like Jimmy Connors, Jane Fonda and Mike Ditka who have had hip replacement surgery.

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, more than 375,000 hip replacements are performed each year in the United States. As the Baby Boomer generation ages in the next 30 years, this number is expected to increase by more than 60 percent.

Years ago, patients Mark’s age weren’t considered ideal candidates for total hip replacement because it was considered risky and unnecessary. In the past, orthopedic surgeons recommended postponing the procedure as long as possible to reduce the chances of having a second replacement surgery. Dr. Landon says his patients are as young as 23 and are undergoing the surgery to get them back to their lives.

“New generation devices and implants are being engineered to last longer, which is good news for patients. A new hip joint can last up to 30 years,” Dr. Landon said. “As more Americans live longer, hip replacement surgery will become the treatment of choice for younger patients.”

The Promise of Hip Replacement

New-and-improved technology is making total hip replacement a safe and viable alternative for patients who suffer from chronic pain stemming from premature arthritis or hip malformation.

“Hip replacement surgery has come a long way,” Dr. Landon said. “The improvements allow for more precise reconstruction of the hip.”

Time is also a big benefit. Nowadays, patients can recover faster from surgery lasting two hours or less. They are usually up and walking the next day.

Dr. Landon added that studies are underway to look at the long-term benefits of minimally invasive hip replacement. Next generation imaging and computer-assisted implant designs and materials are also being developed to improve the procedure and to prolong the lifespan of the materials.

“With better devices, we are seeing longer wear and less reaction from body tissue,” Dr. Landon said. “We have solved a lot of problems over the last three decades. It’s looking better and better every year.”

Getting His Stride Back

Mark’s love of running has rekindled his interest in returning to the sport. When he’s not working at his military base, he works on an elliptical machine to regain his strength. “I’m a work in progress,” he said.

With better mobility and less pain, he is glad he had the surgery and is optimistic about his future.

“I’m not as competitive as I used to be on the track, but I enjoy the competition,” Mark said. “I feel much better.  I’ll probably go back to Iraq at least one more time.”​​​​​