One of Australia’s most loved lead singers recently went under the knife… and he’s recovering swimmingly!
If you’ve been keeping up with pop culture news recently, you may have read about Jimmy Barnes and his recent hip surgery. Jimmy, by all reports, had been experiencing hip and back pain for over 8 years according to recent posts. This led him to cancel his summer tour planned for late 2022 / early 2023 (Bummer!).
From all information available, it appears Jimmy has been experiencing pain related to wear and tear of his hip joint (most likely Osteoarthritis). If anyone reading has watched Jimmy perform, I’m sure you won’t be surprised by this! But hip related low back pain is not an uncommon presentation, with some research suggesting between 20-40% of patients with hip pain experience referred pain into the low back. Some other common areas we see hip pain to refer to are the groin and buttock regions.
To understand more about Jimmy’s pain and the surgery he underwent, we first should discuss the Hip joint and its structure.
The hip joint, as many may know, is a ball and socket joint which allows us to perform many wonderful movements (e.g. bending forward, side stepping to avoid someone, twisting to see who is behind us). The hip joint consists of 2 components, the Acetabulum (a hollowed socket formed by our 3 pelvic bones) and the femur (the long bone in our thigh). On top of the femur sits a rounded ball (head of the femur) which slots into the acetabulum and allows for the movements described earlier. On the surface of the head of the femur and acetabulum is a thin protective coating known as cartilage. This cartilage helps support our joints by preventing direct contact of the bone with other bones and allows for smooth gliding movement in our normal walking and daily activities. When this protective cartilage wears away, it can leave the areas of exposed bone quite sensitive (think of having Jimmy sing right next to you with vs without ear plugs).
This loss of cartilage is known as Osteoarthritis (OA).
Hip Osteoarthritis is a relatively common condition which approximately affects 11% of the population. It is important to note that not all osteoarthritis causes pain, and it is often a complex interaction of many factors as to why some people have pain with OA and why others don’t. OA can happen in any joint in the body, However is most commonly symptomatic in joints that are used quite a lot and take large amounts of force (think thumbs, hips and knees).
While OA can’t be cured, first line management for Hip Osteoarthritis is often conservative management through lifestyle changes and exercise led by a health professional (e.g. physiotherapist, exercise physiologist), in which we target areas of the lower body which might not be as strong. This, along with lifestyle changes (think diet, sedentary time, general physical activity) can often have a significant effect on hip pain from osteoarthritis.
However in cases, like Jimmy, where the pain is interfering with his goals and limiting how he lives his life (and no doubt his usually strong on-stage presence!), surgical procedures are often considered and performed.
The procedure Jimmy had is known as a Total Hip Arthroplasty (THA), aka a total hip replacement (THR).
THA is a relatively common procedure which involves removing the worn contact points of the hip joint (the socket – Acetabulum, and the ball – head of the Femur), and replacing them with artificial components which replicate the normal joint shape (see the image below). This is quite a significant surgery, which depending on how it’s done, involves cutting through many muscles to access the hip joint and subsequently remove it.
If you’re wondering what the before and after looked like, please see below an example of the hip joint before replacement on the left, and the replacement on the right.
As this loading of the worn joints is often a contributing factor to the pain experienced, replacing these contact surfaces often relieves the referred pain previously experienced. Surgery however isn’t a magic bullet, as there is often pain and weakness that develop from the process of undergoing surgery.
This is where Physiotherapists join in to work their magic!
Throughout the process of recovery, physiotherapy is involved quite early on helping patients move safely in and out of bed, stand up and sit down, and being able to walk before they can safely return home. From here, it is recommended that physiotherapy is continued to promote functional outcomes with continued strengthening and mobility exercises along with advice and education. We want you to be relieved from pain, but we also want you to reach those goals that your pain was stopping you from achieving! Whether it’s participating in lawn bowls again, or just walking your dog, we will help you get there.
Often with surgical procedures, it is recommended to be a period of prehabilitation (aka prehab) with a purpose of strengthening the muscles in the affected leg before surgery. The aim of prehab is to reduce the strength and function loss after surgery to improve recovery time. Helping you get back to moving sooner and doing what you enjoy. This involves a period of progressive strengthening exercises which are individually tailored and prescribed by a physiotherapist based on the individual’s presentation.
After surgery, the process of rehabilitation (or rehab) can often look quite similar to prehab, in that progressive lower body strengthening, balance and mobility exercises are used to promote the recovery and functioning of the hip. However we often build from quite simple exercises initially (think sliding your leg in bed, and straightening your knee in bed) to more functional exercises (squatting, steps and stairs). These exercises are again prescribed on an individual basis and are tailored to the individuals goals and what they’d like to achieve and get back to.
Regarding prehab and rehab, there are multiple methods available for completing exercises.
If you fancy yourself a waterbug, physiotherapists can design an exercise program to be completed in the water. We call this adjunct method of rehab hydrotherapy, a chosen favourite of Jimmy himself. He let his fans know that he’ll be doing his rehab whilst on holiday…
“…Thanks for cheering me on, so much positivity has definitely helped. I still have to take it easy, hip op recovery is a long process. I’ll be working on my book, writing new music between Physio work in the pool…”
The benefits of rehab in the pool is that exercises and walking can feel a bit easier as the water helps to support us when we stand, while also providing resistance for our muscles. This is often a good starting point if land based exercises are more difficult to complete.
As we tend to spend most of our lives on land, physiotherapists try to progress to land based rehab exercise to improve and maintain strength, balance and mobility to help people achieve their goals and get back to what matters to them! But hydrotherapy is a great place to start, and one that we often recommend to our own clients.
If you’ve been experiencing hip pain or have been told you have hip osteoarthritis, come see one of our amazing physiotherapists! They can assess you and get your rehab or prehab started, supporting you throughout your journey.
Or, if you’re wanting to prevent any injuries in the future we would love to support you.
Call us on 8352 3582, or book online using this link > https://www.physiowest.net.au/book-online/! We can’t wait to work with you.
- Wang, W., Sun, M., Xu, Z., Qiu, Y. and Weng, W. (2016). The low back pain in patients with hip osteoarthritis: current knowledge on the diagnosis, mechanism and treatment outcome. Annals of Joint, 1, pp.9–9. doi:https://doi.org/10.21037/aoj.2016.06.03.
- Bennell, K. (2013). Physiotherapy management of hip osteoarthritis. Journal of Physiotherapy, 59(3), pp.145–157. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/s1836-9553(13)70179-6.