Rancho Santa Fe hip replacement recipient serves as honorary observer at Farmers Insurance Open

Following a hip replacement surgery in October 2016, Rancho Santa Fe resident Ray Barshick has been able to fully embrace his active lifestyle again, pain-free for the first time in years. 

At the Farmers Insurance Open on Jan. 29, Barshick served as an honorary observer on behalf of Stryker Orthopaedics, the official joint replacement products of the PGA Tour and the product that got Barshick moving again.

As part of his honorary status, Barshick got the chance to walk inside the ropes with PGA golfers in an area typically off limits for tournament attendees, following Keegan Bradley’s group. Barshick took the time to study the professional golfers up-close, taking note of their balance, rotation and approach to each swing for his next time out on the green.

“It was a spectacular day out there, to watch the guys do what they do at the very top level,” Barshick said.

The day was also lot of walking — a little over seven miles — but the hip held up easily with no pain.

Always very active, 64-year-old Barshick asked a lot of his hips. He is an avid golfer, skier and the co-founder of Chuze Fitness chain.

While golfing in Ireland a few years ago, he started feeling a severe pain in his groin. Paired with chronic back pain, he couldn’t do much of anything or even get a proper diagnosis because he was sure the problem was in his groin or his spine, where the pain was radiating from.

While golfing with a cardiologist friend last year, he was in so much pain that he had to use his hand to be able to pick up his leg — he wasn’t able to do it without assistance. The friend suggested something he hadn’t even thought of: “You should have your hip looked at.”

The next week, Barshick visited Dr. Steven Copp of Scripps Ambulatory Surgery Center in La Jolla. Through x-rays, he was able to see all the damage in the ball and socket of his hip joints – it was bone- on-bone due to the loss of cartilage, contributing to severe osteoarthritis. Because the pain didn’t come out of his hip, Barshick had no idea that it was the issue but Copp said that his symptoms were actually quite classic for advanced osteoarthritis of the hip. Copp said many individuals when they first have the onset of symptoms believe that they have a groin muscle pull.

Barshick wasn’t nervous or concerned at all about having the surgery, as it was not his first time — the hip surgery was his sixth surgery and third replacement.

“Being as athletic as I’ve been, I’ve had a lot of stuff come back to haunt me. I feel very fortunate that I’m alive in this frame of medicine,” Barshick said of his operations on his knee and shoulder, a neck fusion and heart ablation surgery. “I’m still able to do all the things I like because of these miracle surgeries.”

According to Copp, total hip arthoplasty has gone through a four-decade process of refinement in materials utilized for the implants, surgical technique and patient care, resulting in rapid recovery with an “incredibly high success rate” and less time in the hospital.

“In addition, the newest materials allow for an expectation of 20 to 30 years of service of the implant. This expectation is based on the reduced wear of the implant that occurs in spite of the millions of cycles of movement that occur in an individual’s life each year,” Copp said. “These advances have allowed the expected activities of individuals to almost unlimited in comparison to our recommendations in prior generations of hip implants.”

Copp said the typical age for hip replacement is between 65 and 75 and as materials and techniques have improved, they have been willing to care for patients who are much younger. Surgery is indicated as a recommendation for patients when alternatives of medications or activity modification are unsuccessful or when living with pain from arthritis in the hip threatens quality of life or an individuals’ safety. 

“Total hip surgery is one of the most reliable and satisfying surgeries in our specialty field,” Copp said.

The morning after his hip replacement, the pain Barshick had been living with for years was gone. There was the pain from the surgery, Barshick said, but it paled in comparison to what he had been experiencing — he knew it was just a matter of doing his rehab, being patient and letting everything heal. He even felt like golfing as soon as two weeks after his surgery, but was cautioned against it to allow the necessary time for the bone to grow into the implant.

Eight weeks after receiving the Stryker Total Hip, he was cleared to pick up his clubs again, and he did so with gusto.

“This is amazing stuff. The replacement side performs and feels better than the regular side that hasn’t been tampered with,” Barshick said. 

If Barshick can pass on any advice from his own experience, it’s that people shouldn’t fear surgeries or delay them because of that fear. He said he made that mistake with his knee replacement because he was told it would be painful but, at the end of the day, getting his body back to be able to do the things that are important to him was invaluable for his quality of life. He wouldn’t be able to do any of the things he loves to do without the surgery and jokes that if not for all his surgeries, he’d likely just be curled up in the fetal position.

“Be proactive instead of living with all of that pain,” Barshick said. “You get your life back, you really do. And time is pretty precious.”

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