“Iron Man” Bounces Back from Osteoarthritis

Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation

Stelios Chrysochou of Newmarket, Ont. is a man on the move. In 2006, he completed a half-Marathon (21.1 km), a half-Ironman Triathalon (2 km swim, 90 km cycle, 21.1 km run), and a full distance Ironman Triathlon (3.9 km swim, 180 km bike, 42.2 km run). An impressive feat any time, and one that seemed impossible just a year earlier, when Chrysochou couldn’t even bend to tie his shoes.

“I was in constant pain,” says Chrysochou, 44, who was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in his left hip at 34.

Though he had been a runner, cyclist and skier, Chrysochou had to abandon those pursuits. Eventually, he couldn’t lift his leg more than six inches without feeling pain. Getting in and out of the car was “agonizing”, he says. He was taking quadruple doses of ibuprophen nightly to sleep. And he found it hard to keep up with his son Nicholas, now 7.

“The pain drains you. I was exhausted every day,” Chrysochou says. By the summer of 2004, he had had enough: “This was a quality of life issue.”

For younger people like Chrysochou who require a hip replacement, odds are that the new hip will wear out and itself need to be replaced one day. Instead, he had a hip resurfacing. The head of the femur is retained, and shaped to accept a metal sphere (no large stem to go down the central part of the femur). The surface of the socket is replaced with a metal implant, which fits directly into the bone. The resurfacing components produce a low-friction finish, and minimal wear.

Chrysochou had the resurfacing in February 2005 at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. When he awoke after the procedure, he was struck by a new sensation -? no pain in his hip. In two weeks he was getting around with a cane, and two months post-op he had joined a cycling club.

Itching to use what he calls “my newfound powers”, he set his sights on completing the half-Marathon, and Ironman Triathlon competitions. And he’s not done yet: “I told my son we’re going to do Triathlons together.”

Chrysochou is grateful for the research that led to an innovation like hip resurfacing (his implant has only been around 10 years), and commends the Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation for their efforts to further advances in orthopaedic care and support.

“The implant has changed my life completely. I’m fit again. I have no pain. I can play for hours with my son. I feel more alive today than I have my entire life.”