Musician Everett Greenberg knew the show had to go on. While playing a solo set of musical standards at a senior living facility in 2007, Mr. Greenberg could barely stand in front of his keyboard. It was then that he decided to get help.
Decades as a performing musician had put a lot of wear and tear on Mr. Greenberg’s joints, particularly his hips. X-rays revealed that the cartilage that was supposed to cushion his hip joints had worn out — meaning he had osteoarthritis.
The diagnosis wasn’t a surprise. “I was always hunched over playing keyboards and carting equipment,” Mr. Greenberg said. “I started to hear creaking in my hips. I tried pain management and physical therapy, but I still had pain most of the time. I couldn’t sleep without putting pillows under my joints. I was walking like a penguin into shows, and I was fearful of falling, especially in the winter.”
The pain became so intense that Mr. Greenberg had to add a new partner to his act — a chair. “If Elton John, Barry Manilow and Billy Joel could sit and perform, so could I,” Mr. Greenberg said.
More months passed and the pain continued, so Mr. Greenberg asked his primary care physician about other options. His doctor suggested a visit to Frank DiMaio, MD, an orthopedic surgeon who recently joined LIJ Medical Center. The hospital is home to a joint center that specializes in minimally invasive procedures for hips, knees and other joints. Dr. DiMaio told Mr. Greenberg about minimally invasive hip replacement, which involves smaller incisions that make recovery easier.
“Minimally invasive surgery affects less tissue so patients can return to their activities sooner,” Dr. DiMaio said. “Using minimally invasive techniques, we can decrease recovery time by 30 percent.” In the case of hip replacement, this can mean cutting a three-month recovery to eight weeks or even less. The result: Patients experience pain relief and improved mobility sooner.
Dr. DiMaio uses minimally invasive techniques on about 80 percent of his routine hip replacement patients. Those who might not be candidates include people who are obese or have rheumatoid arthritis.
As a musician, Mr. Greenberg was reluctant to take time off for surgery because it would affect his business. Having an option that would help him recover more quickly was key. “When you’re your own boss, you have to make downtime as short as possible. If I had traditional surgery, I would have been down and out for months.” Taking the Leap
Mr. Greenberg, a Hicksville resident, is a fan of the Beatles, Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra. Now he is also a fan of Dr. DiMaio. “He is very dynamic and informative. Before the surgeries, he walked me through everything I needed to know,” he said. In early October 2007, Dr. DiMaio performed a minimally invasive total hip replacement on Mr. Greenberg’s right hip. During the procedure, the surgeon removed the top of the thighbone and replaced the ball and socket of the hip joint with an artificial implant. “With the newest technology, hip implants can last a lifetime,” said Dr. DiMaio, one of numerous surgeons at LIJ Medical Center and North Shore University Hospital who perform minimally invasive hip surgery.
Mr. Greenberg was back to work by Thanksgiving — just in time for the busy season. To get back in shape after surgery, the piano player signed up for physical therapy three times a week. Specially designed exercises helped him regain his strength and improve his mobility, for a quicker recovery.
A Second Act
With his right hip replaced, Mr. Greenberg had much less pain, but the osteoarthritis in his left hip still needed treatment. A year later, he returned to Dr. DiMaio for minimally invasive hip surgery on his left hip.
“I knew exactly what I had to prepare for,” Mr. Greenberg said. So in October 2008, the musician had minimally invasive hip replacement at LIJ. Mr. Greenberg stayed in the hospital three days, a few days less than if he had a traditional hip replacement. “The nursing staff at LIJ was very reassuring and made me feel most comfortable,” he said.
After the second surgery, Mr. Greenberg relied on home healthcare and the support of friends to help him recover. In addition, he completed an accelerated physical therapy program that helped him get back on his feet fairly quickly. In five weeks, he was able to book his first gig postsurgery.
Singing a Happy Tune
“Now, I feel totally balanced, totally healed,” said Mr. Greenberg, who leads a seven-piece classic-rock group called Seven Bridges Road that tours the five boroughs. “Now I’m able to do what I used to do years ago. I can do two or three shows a day without pain. I have energy during the day, and I can sleep at night.”
In fact, the surgeries have transformed his life, from the inside out. “People who see me now say I look younger because I stand up straight and smile,” Mr. Greenberg said. “I’m no longer in pain, so I sing stronger and perform with love again. I can’t wait to do my job and play.”
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+Patients should speak to their orthopedist to see if minimally invasive surgery is right for them.
For expert care from one of our orthopedic specialists, call the North Shore-LIJ Institute for Orthopedic Science at (866) 914-9393 or visit www.OrthopedicScience.com.