Altoona, Blair County, Pa. - The next time you have trouble getting off the couch for a walk around the neighborhood, thinking of a local man may inspire you. He runs 60 to 70 miles a week. When an injury threatened to stop him, he opted for a procedure that sounded a little strange.
Earlier this month, A. J. Kelly came in fifth in the Pocono Marathon, his 25th marathon. He runs about 20 races a year, mostly in Blair County, and wins quite a few
"Running is a huge part of my life," he says. "It's something I do everyday or at least 6 days a week. I've been doing it since I was 17."
But a year ago, scarring from an old injury and just wear and tear, made his favorite activity more of a pain than a pleasure.
A. J. says, "it just kind of felt like a real sharp kind of, it was like a dull pain, but also at the same time, it appeared there was some sharp pain to it, as well, but it was just basically every step."
At University Orthopedics, Dr. Jonathan Van Kleunen found 2 injuries in the hip were causing A.J.'s pain,
"Ignoring the symptoms and continuing to try to perform a sports activity on this type of hip damage would lead to worsening pain, worsening arthritis, and additional damage in the hip as time went on," he says.
Dr Van Kleunen told A. J. the injury to the hip socket would be easy to relatively easy to repair, but the other, damage to the ball part of the joint, could be more problematic.
"Unfortunately, for a lot of these patients before, there were no good options and a lot of those people were not able to continue their level of activity their job or their sports," he says.
But now, using tiny incisions doctors are able to perform a newer procedure called microfracture to prompt the bone to heal .
'We're actually poking some very selective holes in the bone to stimulate some bleeding in the bone, " Dr. Van Kleunen explains, "and this wakes up the body to the fact that there is an injury there, and when that happens, the body's able to heal the induced injury to the bone, but also to form some new scar tissue, slash cartilage tissue, to fill in that previous injury that was there," he continued.
A. J. Kelly says, "it sounded funny at first but I did a lot of reading up on it and I saw it was about a 70 percent success rate."
The microfracture procedure was very successful in getting A. J. back on the track and he says, "now it feels great, 100% better. I don't feel any pain at all in the hip."
He finished the Pocono Marathon with his best time, in 10 years.
Dr Van Kleunen says patients do need to proceed slowly with their physical rehabilitation, not putting any weight on the leg for 2 months. But he says most highly motivated athletes, like A. J. who closely follow doctors' orders, can return to their sport and be just as successful as they were before their injury.