March 31, 2021

Active mom seeks a hip replacement during a pandemic

Hip | Patient Stories

Walking the dog, putting on socks and tying shoes are all things you learn when you’re young. By the time you’re in your 40’s, they’re muscle memory movements. When Shelly Williams found these tasks more and more difficult on her hip, she knew something was wrong. 

Shelly has worked in healthcare for over 30 years and knew OrthoIndy’s good reputation. But like many people in a global pandemic, Shelly was reluctant to get surgery this summer. Over the course of a year, the pain in her hip kept getting worse, so she scheduled an appointment with OrthoIndy total joint replacement doctor, Dr. Patrick Millikan. 

What causes arthritis in the hip? 

“Shelly initially came into the clinic complaining of left groin and buttock pain, with occasional pain travelling into her thigh,” Dr. Millikan said. “This had been present for over 12 months and was gradually becoming worse.” 

When her X-rays came back, they showed Shelly had severe, bone-on-bone arthritis in her left hip joint. Before surgery, Shelly tried a steroid injection into her hip joint, to see if it could relieve her pain. While she did improve, it was only temporary, and Shelly and Dr. Millikan decided on a total hip replacement. 

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Hip Anatomy

The hip is your body’s largest weight-bearing joint. This joint is also called a ball-and-socket joint. The ball is the upper end of the thigh bone (femur), which fits into the socket (or acetabulum) at your pelvis. 

Several muscles cross the hip joint and a strong capsule envelops the hip joint itself.  Muscles are connected to bones that make up the hip joint by tendons, which are made from strong fibrous tissue, enabling motion of the joint. 

Symptoms of Arthritis in Hip 

Shelly is not alone when it comes to pain from rheumatoid arthritis of the hip. Common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are: 

  • Pain-often in the groin area, down the front of thigh 
  • Limp 
  • Stiffness 
  • Difficulties with activities, such as putting on shoes and socks, or getting in and out of the car 


Hip Arthritis Surgery

Shelly underwent hip replacement surgery during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the fundamentals of her surgery did not change, the entire OrthoIndy team worked to provide their usual excellent care, while protecting against the spread of COVID-19, according to Dr. Millikan. 

“This started in the clinic, with universal masking and temperature checks,” Dr. Millikan said. “Before surgery, Shelly underwent a COVID-19 test, and then quarantined from others until her surgery. In the hospital, we continued the precautions, and worked hard to get Shelly home safely as efficiently as possible after her procedure.” 

During a total hip replacement, the top of the thigh bone is removed and any arthritis and unhealthy bone is removed from the socket. A new titanium socket is placed in the bone of the pelvis. The inside of the titanium socket is lined with medical grade plastic and a titanium rod is placed down the inside of the thigh bone. A ceramic ball is mounted on top of the rod. Your new hip joint is made up of the ceramic ball and the plastic inside the socket, according to Dr. Millikan. 

Shelly’s entire experience impressed her from beginning to end. Her surgery happened in August, so with visitor restrictions in place, she went alone. But OrthoIndy staff made her feel comfortable and at home. 

“I was calm and my nurse Regina was fabulous in pre-op,” Shelly said. “The nurses on the floor were just as great! I had Ivey overnight and she was so fun!  She made sure I had everything I needed.  The day nurse was fabulous as well. I was thankful to have her both day shifts. It made it easier transitioning my care from day to day. The food was far better than any other in-patient facility I’ve stayed at.” 

Hip Arthritis Treatment 

Shelly is recovering well,” Dr. Millikan said. “She completed her therapy and continues to advance her level of activity. At our last visit, she told me that her preoperative pain was gone, and that her soreness from surgery continued to improve.” 

The activities Shelly struggled with before surgery, she’s now able to do with ease three months post-surgery. She’s even beginning to walk her poodle again.   

Shelly won’t be slowing down anytime soon either. Her 50th birthday is quickly approaching next April and her goal is to take a road trip to the mountains of Sedona with her kids.  

“My favorite mountain view is the views in Sedona,” Shelly said. “We will certainly stop along our drive at iconic spots between here and there.”  

A year of living in pain is too long. Shelly is grateful for the hip replacement because she’s able to do everyday activities again, as well as keep up with her dog and kids. 

“Having a joint replaced is very intimidating but the things that change your life are often what we find the scariest,” Shelly said. 

To make an appointment with Dr. Millikan, please call 317.802.2845 or visit


Schedule an appointment 

Your well-being is important to us. Click the button below or call us to schedule an appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists. If your injury or condition is recent, you can walk right into one of our OrthoIndy Urgent Care locations for immediate care. For rehabilitation and physical therapy, no referral is needed to see one of our physical therapists

Schedule an Appointment Call OrthoIndy 317.802.2000

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