Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Squeaking Around

Before I got my new ceramic hip, the surgeon warned me that sometimes the hips squeak. There are plenty of videos on youtube if you want to know what this sounds like.

I figured squeaking was better than losing my mobility.  I’ve had this hip for a year and a half now.  On a rainy day last weak, I was out walking my dog, and it squeeeeeeaked.  First, it felt like my hip wasn’t going to move, and then when it did move: squEEEEEK. SqueEEEEEK.

The hip hadn’t squeaked before. It hadn’t squeaked in the house.  It only squeaked when I was outside in the cold winter rain, walking my dog. It stopped squeaking when I was inside again.

I looked up ceramic hip squeaking on the web. It is most common in people with small bones –me. And in people who take long strides – me when I’m walking my dog.  I just got this young healthy dog last August.  He rushes me to the Art Museum where we dash up the steps like Rocky three or four times a week.  My stride has been getting longer.

But I suspected there was more to it.  

For the evening dog walking adventure, I put my microwaveable hip heating pad in the microwave for 2 minutes and then strapped it on.  Same dog. Same cold rainy weather – perhaps colder.  But I only had 3 mild squeaks during the whole walk.  

The next day I was meeting a friend to walk dogs together.  We started at 6:30 in the morning.  I put on the heating pad – it stays warm for about an hour.  I had a couple of very mild squeaks.  Then the heating pad cooled off, and I got more squeaks.  So, temperature has something to do with how the hip pieces fit together.

Then I went to yoga class, where we worked on tree pose.  The teacher talked us through using inner and outer leg muscles on both legs, no matter which one we were standing on.

She had us lift up out of the hip socket.  This was easy on my leg with my natural hip and a nest of weak muscles in my leg with the new hip. 

I practiced standing in front of a mirror, using the weak muscles in my left leg.  My whole body made a subtle shift to the right.  I looked like I was standing up straighter.

So, now I have two things I can do to minimize squeaking – a heating pad, and exercise.  I think I’m the first person to record these experiments – nobody else who has written about squeaking hips has mentioned ways to make it stop.

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