|Even at the age of 92, Ralph Cennamo of Bridgeport loves to dance, especially the tango. But in early 2010, he thought his days on the dance floor might be cut short by chronic back pain.|
The retired Avco Lycoming aircraft mechanic saw his doctor, who ordered X-rays and determined that Ralph might have spinal stenosis, a condition caused by the narrowing of the spinal canal due to aging. This narrowing, in turn, puts pressure on the nerves of the spine, and can generate pain in the back, buttocks and legs.
Ralph’s doctor recommended physical therapy, which can relieve the pain of spinal stenosis. When therapy didn’t work, Ralph sought help from a chiropractor and through acupuncture. After 10 months of undergoing these various treatments, the pain was still there.
Then, early in 2011, one of Ralph’s friends suggested that he see Bridgeport Hospital orthopedic surgeon David Bindelglass, MD, who specializes in hip and knee surgery.
“While hip arthritis is not a direct cause of back pain, it can cause leg pain and this leg pain can be wrongfully attributed to nerve irritation from a back problem,” Dr. Bindelglass explains.
And sure enough, Dr. Bindelglass’ diagnosis revealed that it was Ralph’s hip—not his back—that was the primary source of his discomfort.
Like back pain, arthritis of the hip can be addressed with treatments other than surgery, including physical therapy, medications and assistive devices like a cane or walker.
But Ralph wasn’t ready to give up dancing. He chose to have total hip replacement surgery—even though he was over 90.
“Improvements in technique and technology make hip replacement surgery a safe and effective option even for people in their 80s or older,” Dr. Bindelglass says. “Ralph was a healthy, active senior, so getting his hip replaced was the right choice to be able to continue doing the things he loved to do.”
Dr. Bindelglass performed Ralph’s surgery in March 2011. He removed the damaged hip joint and replaced it with one made of metal and plastic—a durable combination that can last for decades.
During the weeks following the operation, Ralph’s recovery progressed from inpatient physical therapy at Bridgeport Hospital to a rehabilitation facility to therapy home visits.
“There was no pain, almost from the day of the surgery,” Ralph recalls. “And Dr. Bindelglass and the Bridgeport Hospital team were great—patient, helpful and very friendly.”
Six months after his surgery, Ralph celebrated his 92nd birthday by doing the tango at a Shelton Senior Center dance.
“If you want to stay active as you get older, look at all the options for overcoming pain,” Ralph says. “It may even be wise to seek a second medical opinion.”
Dr. Bindelglass, fellow orthopedic surgeon Joel Malin, MD, orthopedic nurse Karen Essig and physical therapist Amy Mooney will discuss the causes of and treatments for hip and knee pain, including joint replacement surgery, during the free lecture, ‘Hip or Knee Pain? You Can Do Something About It!” Wednesday, Nov. 9, 1:00–3:00 p.m., at Tashua Knolls, 40 Tashua Knolls Lane, Trumbull. Registration is required. Call 1-888-357-2396.