Here I am, 6 weeks on from the Durolane (hyaluronic acid) injection I had at the beginning of June. Durolane can take upto 6 weeks to act within a joint so I thought I would give it the full length of time before passing my final judgement on how successful the treatment has been this time around.
Right, on to the all important question: how has my hip been holding up? Honestly, I’ve found there have been a few more ups and downs in comparison to the first injection I had.
Firstly, when I was discharged from hospital this time, my post-injection notes stated that I had to avoid heavy lifting, strenuous exercise and work for 2 weeks. On arriving home from the hospital, I went to hunt for the final cane I was given when I spent 1997 learning to walk again. Slight flaw there. I’ve grown since then (though some would argue not by much!) and it was too short, so I had to borrow one from a relative.
My hip continued to be rather stiff for the first couple of weeks though I only used the cane for 6-7 days while my leg felt a bit weaker (and yes, I was subjected to a number of Greg House jokes*). I found that wearing my trusty 14-hole Dr Martens helped me walk better in that time too. I think it’s a combination of the bouncing sole and the fact that they’re slightly heavy boots- they almost force you to walk correctly.
In addition to the joint stiffness, I had some nerve pain. As I’ve previously mentioned, the needle went through one of my old scars which is nerve damaged anyway. This manifested as a sharp pain around the scar site so I can only assume it was the nerves being a tad narky. I ended up taking my painkillers every day which subdued the pain but had the added effect of making me a little sleepy. I’m glad I was ordered to take it easy for a couple of weeks- it definitely helped. For starters, it gave me the opportunity to catch up on some films- I seem to have watched a lot of Batman in recent weeks!
By the end of the 2 weeks, I was eager to resume all normal activities. Earlier this year I decided I needed to become healthier and had previously been spending 30 mins on the cross-trainer 6 nights a week. It turns out this is something I enjoy (well it gives me the opportunity to listen to classic 80s songs/cheesy rubbish/classic tunes on the iPod while I exercise so no complaints here). On the first day after my 2 week rest, I went for a 60 min walk on the local nature reserve *and* did my 30 mins on the cross-trainer at the original intensity level I’d been using pre-injection. I tried to continue at this intensity for a few days but I realised my hip joint still felt spikey. I know what you’re thinking: “hmm, that was a bit foolish”. I’ll hold my hands up now and admit that I tried to do too much too soon.
During weeks 3-4 post-injection I almost had myself convinced that the hyaluronic acid hadn’t worked fully. Of course that sent me into a panic. If the injection hadn’t worked then I would have to either a) continue relying on strong painkillers or b) have a hip replacement and become the bionic woman. I still continued with the cross-trainer but toned my efforts down. I only used it twice a week with a lower intensity. Slowing the pace down solved the problem though. Between weeks 5-6, things improved dramatically. I now have no doubt that the hyaluronic acid is doing it’s job. My hip feels so much better now and I’m off my painkillers- something I’m sure my body is grateful for.
Now for the million dollar question: how long will it last? Again, I don’t know. Last time I got a good 9 months out of it. Since this is my 2nd injection, there is the possibly of a cumulative effect which would be fantastic. One thing to note is that I’m probably being harder on my hip than ever before by using the cross-trainer 30 mins/5 days a week. Will the extra exertion cause the beneficial effects of the hyaluronic acid to diminish at a higher rate? I don’t know.
What I do know is that right now, I feel much happier. My hip joint no longer aches while I’m lying in bed and I can walk around without sharp pains shooting across the joint. I don’t know if it’s noticeable but, minus the pain, I seem to be in a more positive mood. Let’s see how long that lasts, eh?
*No, I don’t have a “bitchin'” cane with flames on it. Yes, I did make several “but I’m a cripple” jokes at my own expense. Oh and yes, I have been wearing Nike trainers. Ok?