Each week, Laguna Woods resident Gael Clark looked forward to dancing to country music with friends, until pain became her regular dance partner. Over the course of several months, Gael noticed a subtle pain in her hips that progressively got worse until the pain became unbearable. Not only did she stop dancing, but she developed a noticeable limp and had trouble sleeping.

“I thought it was just age and my time to slow down. Turns out, I had to take two steps back before I could ‘two-step’ forward again.” says Gael.

During Gael’s annual woman’s exam, her primary care doctor was concerned by her diminished flexibility and immediately sent her for X-rays. They showed that cartilage was nonexistent in her right hip, and nearly gone in her left hip. She referred Gael to Larry M. Gersten, MD, an orthopedic surgeon with fellowship training who performs hip and knee surgeries at Saddleback Medical Center. What she heard made her want to kick up her heels.

“When I learned that hip replacement was an option for me, I was ecstatic. After just one meeting with Dr. Gersten I was confident in his ability to help me return to my active lifestyle. Dr. Gersten asked when I wanted to schedule the surgery, I told him I was ready to clear my dance card and have it tomorrow!”

A Well Choreographed Program

Saddleback Medical Center's comprehensive joint care program provides state-of-the-art technology and a dedicated team supporting patients who require knee and hip replacements. To help prepare Gael for her procedure, Dr. Gersten recommended she attend Saddleback Medical Center's pre-operative joint replacement class to learn about medication side effects, rehabilitation and how to remain active pre-and-post surgery for faster recovery. “The class was very informative. Like everyone I met at the hospital, the instructor was friendly and encouraging, which added even more to my peace of mind.

Gael says that when she awoke after surgery her first thought was, “Oh my gosh, I have no pain!” She adds, “I was up and walking throughout the orthopedic unit the very next day after surgery.”

A year after her right hip replacement, Gael returned to Saddleback Medical Centerto have Dr. Gersten perform an equally successful replacement of her left hip. “I didn’t want to wait. I didn’t want to endure the kind of pain that I’d had with my right hip,” she says. “For both procedures, I couldn’t have asked for better care from the doctors, nurses and physical therapists.”

Within three months of the operation, Gael was back on the dance floor, this time without pain. “My friends were shocked by how quickly I recovered,” she says. “I feel younger, and can do what I want without adjusting my lifestyle. I wake up in the morning thinking about how good I feel.”

Dancing is all in the hips, they say. As Gael can tell you, left and right hip replacements were the right moves for her to make.

If you need knee or hip replacement, you can expect a unique experience at the MemorialCare Joint Replacement Center at Saddleback Medical Center. Our award-winning orthopedic care model is designed to quickly return you to your active lifestyle. Led by our expert team of surgeons, nurses and therapists, our program gets patients on their feet within 24 hours. If you are living with pain in your knees or hips, you may be a candidate for joint replacement surgery.