A double hip replacement didn't keep Paul from his love of martial arts

Paul Caruthers gets a kick out of life. The easygoing, good-humored Tennessee native packs in as much hard work and fun as he can into his daily life, which includes working a fulltime job, being a husband and father, freelancing as a disc jokey and practicing his 20-plus year passion - a variety of martial arts disciplines.

However, issues with his hips began to interfere with the joy Paul, 41, found in his daily activities. "I could feel something going on in my mid-20s, but I just kept going," he said. But the "grinding and popping" he felt became too much to bear, and by the time he was 37, he realized he was facing a serious joint problem.

"I slowed down almost to a halt. I was really limited, and maybe I was in denial, because I had been athletic my whole life," said the mill operator at a local steel tubing manufacturing facility. "I couldn't play with my kids at home, and standing for 10 hours at a time at work was becoming difficult. And with martial arts, I kept trying to stretch and the kicks became too difficult."

In late 2009, Paul made an appointment with Dr. Matthew Barrett with Middle Tennessee Medical Center's Joint Replacement Center. After testing, Dr. Barrett confirmed that the cartilage in Paul's hip joints had deteriorated to those "of a 70-year-old," as Paul said, but he also presented all the available options.

"I was totally against hip replacement. I said no to Dr. Barrett. I thought, 'I don't want to be done, yet,' but I was already done!" Paul recalled.

After another year and a half of pain, Paul and his wife of 13 years, Nicole, met with Dr. Barrett and said they were considering a joint replacement for Paul's left hip. "I couldn't believe what I was saying, but the pain drove me to it!" he said with a headshake and a chuckle.

During that visit, Paul was armed with a lengthy list of questions to which Dr. Barrett gave straightforward answers. "He told me everything I would be facing, and when I got done talking with him, I felt much better."

On Dec. 13, 2010, Dr. Barrett and his team performed a left hip joint replacement on Paul at the Joint Replacement Center, which has been distinguished with the Joint Commission Gold Seal of Approval for Hip and Knee Replacement. Of the experience, Paul said, "I felt totally prepared. Everybody at the hospital was great. They made me and my family feel so at home. Going in, I was 50 percent scared and 50 percent excited, but the whole experience turned out to actually be a joy."

Things went so well that one year and one day to the date of his surgery, Dr. Barrett replaced Paul's right hip joint, with the same excellent outcome.

Paul is back to doing many of the activities he enjoyed before joint pain sidelined him, including teaching his young son and daughter the art of Karate and Taekwando, and working on his own martial arts skills. In fact, he is back to practicing at his black belt-levels and said with genuine satisfaction, "I am shocked at what I can now do!"


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