Have (New) Hip, Will Travel

When all else failed, joint replacement surgery was David Archer’s answer

Dave Archer on bike
Dave Archer enjoys riding his bike after hip replacement surgery.

After marketing professional David Archer retired for the first time 20 years ago, he settled into an enjoyable routine of skiing  and traveling as much as he could. Within the next decade, his hip began to bother him, but things settled down and he kept traveling. He was living in Squaw Valley when he broke a leg. Temporarily grounded from long-distance travels, he visited Reno. He loved it so much, he moved there, eventually becoming involved with the American Marketing Association and Nevada’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology.

As a result of his work with those organizations, he became familiar with Northern Nevada Medical Center and, later, Northern Nevada Sierra Medical Center. “I had a small surgical procedure at NNMC in 2019 and I loved my experience there. So when I learned about Sierra Medical Center and attended the groundbreaking ceremony, I was very excited,” he says.

Hip issues return

After retiring again in 2022, Archer cruises, travels and walks – a lot. But in February 2023, a 10-day vacation with an especially heavy load of walking caused an increase of pain in his hip. When he returned home, he connected with Orthopedic Surgeon Paul Shonnard, MD, whom he had previously met. “We discovered I have severe congenital dysplasia on both of my hips and an impingement, where the head of the femur hits the hip socket when I move. That, and degenerative osteoarthritis, was causing the pain,” says Archer. “Dr. Shonnard gave me cortisone shots to temporarily relieve the pain, but did mention I would probably need a hip replacement down the road.

“I told him to make it as far down that road as possible!”

Archer got through the spring and early summer, but in August he was attending an event and couldn’t make it from the parking garage to the ballroom without sitting down. He knew it was finally time to do something about his hip.

Surgery at Sierra

Archer decided to have Dr. Shonnard do his surgery at Sierra Medical Center in September and was impressed with the entire experience. “The hospital is beautiful. The lobby reminds you of a nice hotel, with a warm, welcoming atmosphere,” he says. “I was in and out of there so quickly, and I was amazed at how efficient everything was.”

He said it felt like everyone was there to take care of him, that he was not just another patient. “They all made me feel like they really cared,” he says. “When I was discharged, they gave me things to make life easier at home while I was recuperating, like a device that helps me pick things up off the floor, something to help put socks on, a walker. They knew I was going to have challenges at home, so they set me up for success. I could not believe I was able to get up and walk out of the hospital.”

Walking again, pain-free

Archer says he was on his feet in the house the next day, and although he did have pain for a few days, he used a walker for only three days and started physical therapy five days after surgery. “I was walking a mile about a week after surgery, and my recovery was incredibly fast,” he says. “After two weeks, I was able to drive once my staples came out. But the best part is that I am now able to walk and enjoy life without pain.”

In preparing for the surgery, Archer notes that he watched a series of videos on the NNMC website that guide patients on the pre-operative process, getting in and out of bed, and more. He says the videos were very helpful in setting expectations.

“This was major surgery. Every point of contact I had was helpful, from beginning to end. I never felt uncomfortable or stressed. It was a very calm, soothing environment. The nurses were focused on me and were very proactive,” says Archer. “If you need any kind of surgery, the Northern Nevada Health System is where you want to be.”

How Do I Know If I Need Hip Replacement Surgery?

If you are suffering from hip pain, it may not actually be coming from your hip, according to Dr. Shonnard. “Hip pain is the great masquerader. It may present with knee pain, groin pain, low back pain,” he says. To address it, Dr. Shonnard recommends modifying activities and using conservative pain medications as a first-line treatment. “If those don’t help, then you should see an orthopedist who can order X-rays and/or an MRI,” he says. “That doctor may also use cortisone injections to relieve the pain and swelling in the area.”

If injections don’t work, then it is time to talk about options, such as arthroscopic surgery. “If the joint has minor issues, that may be the best solution. Arthroscopic surgery is one of the fastest-growing [treatments] for the hip, and can also be done for the knee, shoulder and elbow,” says Dr. Shonnard. “If you do need hip replacement surgery, computer-aided design is used to match the implants to the patient’s bone. The quality of the implants has also improved greatly in the last 10 years.” Dr. Shonnard advises that if you are considering surgery, you should choose an experienced surgeon who specializes in joint replacement.

Find a Doctor →