By: Alison Dunn Mar 30, 2010

My mom is a pretty active lady. She swims, walks, golfs and even took up spinning a few years back. She dresses fashionably, has a hip hairstyle and doesn’t look anywhere near her real age. (Which she will kill me if I reveal…)

That’s why it was pretty shocking when she discovered that the excruciating pain she was experiencing in her back and knee was caused by osteoarthritis in her hip. It was so bad, bone was literally rubbing against bone. She had no option other than a full hip replacement.

Like the trooper she is, she underwent the surgery in January. The doctor warned her the pain would be unlike anything she’d experienced, and he was right. But still, she persevered. She left the hospital a day early, did every exercise the physiotherapist told her to do, and is on her way to healing perfectly. And, once the healing process is over, she’ll be able to walk again without any pain at all.

But at the same time, my mom’s younger sister also discovered she needed a hip replacement, due to osteoarthritis. And their older sister had already had her hip done. Which led me to worry: Is there a hip replacement in my future?

Clearly, osteoarthritis runs in my family. And we’re not alone. One in 10 Canadians has osteoarthritis, and heredity is considered one of the primary causes. Osteoarthritis most commonly affects the hips, knees, feet and spine. Couple that with the fact that most people develop it around age 45 (only 10 years away for me!), and that was enough to send me into a panic. What if I can’t run anymore?

So I sent our contributing editor, Michelle Morra-Carlisle, on a quest to find out the truth about how to prevent hip replacements. After all, if one in 10 of us is going to suffer from osteoarthritis, we should try to find a way to minimize the pain.

The result is her story, “Hang on to your hips,” this week on Primacy Life. And you’ll see that she has some very good news for anyone concerned with the effects of osteoarthritis. While there may not be a darn thing I can do about the heredity aspect of it, I don’t have to give up.

I’m already well on my way to following the advice she got. I exercise regularly and try to keep my weight in a healthy range for my height. I stretch after running and I see a chiropractor to keep my joints moving. I take a glucosamine supplement, and I even see a pedorthist to make sure I get the right running shoes to avoid injury.

My mom would agree. She says if she’d had some of this information back when she was 35, it’s possible she may not have needed that hip replacement at all. There are no guarantees I won’t need one in the future, but for the time being, I’ll do my best to prevent one.

For now, I’m just looking forward to going for a walk with my mom!

A journalist with more than 10 years experience, Alison’s work has appeared in a number of top Canadian publications, including glow, Oxygen, Canadian Running and more. She is the former editor of a number of well-respected Canadian and American trade journals and recipient of a Kenneth R. Wilson Gold Award of Excellence in feature article writing. She is a part-time faculty member at Sheridan College’s journalism department, as well as an avid runner and fitness enthusiast.