Dawn Ellis stands on her backyard patio holding her dog.

A New Way to Walk After Years of Misplaced Pain

After almost seven years of severe knee discomfort, Milton resident Dawn Ellis, began seeking a serious solution for relief. She pursued care for her painful dragging leg and the conclusion brought her to physical therapy that kept the pain at bay. However, it wasn’t resolving the issue and over time, PT no longer helped the pain subside. As her discomfort persisted, and her symptoms grew more unmanageable, Ellis finally had a breaking point.

In the summer of 2021, she was attempting to walk off the beach and her leg completely gave out from under her; leaving her practically immobile in the soft sand. Shortly after that frustrating event, Ellis pulled out her insurance card and started scheduling appointments. She was determined to resolve this issue she had dealt with for years. This time she did not stop until she had true answers.

After inconclusive knee MRIs and cortisone shots that didn’t alleviate the pain, it was finally discovered that the pain was caused by something other than her knee. It was a bad hip joint causing all the trouble. The pain was coming from her hip, projecting down to her knee. Ellis found out she would need surgery and began researching the different approaches to hip replacement. Ultimately, that’s what led Ellis to Bayhealth Orthopedic Surgeon Trinity O. Pilkington, MD.

Ellis felt Dr. Pilkington’s excitement and passion for a different procedure; an anterior approach to hip replacement. This approach is a muscle-sparing procedure. Dr. Pilkington uses a natural division between muscles and there is no need to cut, split or detach muscles. Classic post-operative hip precautions are unnecessary. Patients are typically walking unassisted, without a limp or much pain, by two weeks after the procedure.

“Mrs. Ellis suffered from advanced degenerative arthritis of the hip and maximized all conservative treatments,” Dr. Pilkington said, “she was in extreme pain, and it compromised her lifestyle. She was an ideal candidate for a total hip replacement.”

Not once did Ellis feel pressured to get this specific approach, rather, she was treated like a partner in her healthcare decision. She was informed on both types of procedures and then she was given ample time to think through it. As a regional healthcare leader, Bayhealth offers anterior hip replacement, total knee replacement and partial knee replacement surgery on an outpatient basis at both Kent and Sussex campuses.

“I am very grateful for Dr. Pilkington to have treated me the way that he did,” she shared of her experience. He did not leave any of her questions unanswered and helped her feel very at ease on the day of her surgery. Ultimately, Ellis opted for the surgery with the quicker recovery and trusted Dr. Pilkington’s confidence. She was ready to get her life back.

“Everyone at Bayhealth was extraordinary—I feel like they wouldn’t have treated their mother any better than they treated me the entire time.” Ellis couldn’t speak highly enough of her time at Bayhealth. “The entire experience was first-class and overall, a seamless operation.”

Today, Ellis is almost 6 months out from surgery. Her recovery has been relatively brief, all things considered. “I was up and walking the day after surgery, it was incredible!” said Ellis, “I occasionally had a little pain, but I can call anytime I have a question.” Her life is radically changed—she highly credits Dr. Pilkington and the Bayhealth staff.

Visit Bayhealth.org/Orthopedics to learn more. To find an orthopedic surgeon to meet your needs, call 1-866-BAY-DOCS to learn more about providers in your area.

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