Berry Tramel

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Barry Switzer: Hip replacement surgery has changed his life

by Berry Tramel Modified: August 21, 2013 at 11:10 am •  Published: August 21, 2013
Barry Switzer recently got hip replacement surgery. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman
Barry Switzer recently got hip replacement surgery. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman

The recent image of Barry Switzer conflicts with the vintage Switzer image. Constant back pain made Switzer walk hunched over, with ginger steps.

But no more. Hip replacement has changed Switzer’s life.

“Made me totally different person,” Switzer said. “I’m mobile again.”

Now Switzer is working with DePuy Synthes Joint Reconstruction to spread the word. He’s on a media tour encouraging people to go to hipreplacement.com and discover if they could be helped by surgery.

“Remember the way I looked, decrepit old man?” Switzer asked. “I am an old man. But I hated looking like an old man.”

Switzer turns 76 in October. So he’s right. He is an old man. But that doesn’t mean he has to limp through life.

Switzer has had consistent back pain for decades. He’s undergone three back surgeries, and when the pain returned a couple of years ago, he figured he’d have to have another operation. “Scared me to death,” Switzer said.

But he underwent MRIs, and nothing was found wrong with his spine.

“I’m having hell of a pain,” Switzer said. “Can’t even walk 100 yards. Pain so bad, down through my groin, my quadriceps muscle, my knee, my right leg. I just had to quit. Limp back to the house. I was really upset about physical condition I was in.”

Finally, OU team doctor Brock Schnebel asked Switzer if he’d ever had an MRI on his hip. No. So an MRI was done, and Schnebel told Switzer “you should have had that damn thing replaced 20 years ago.”

Three days later, July 8, 2011, Switzer underwent the replacement, and a week after that he walked a mile. Walked from his house on Chautauqua Avenue over past the OU law library and back.

“Didn’t have a step pain, I was thrilled to death,” Switzer said. “I had done the right thing. It had changed my life.”

The official diagnosis on Switzer was osteoarthritis, which DePuy Orthopaedics say affects nearly 27 million Americans. Switzer’s hip replacement was done with the anterior approach, a less-invasive alternative to traditional hip replacement. With the anterior approach, the joints in the hip are still replaced, but with much less disruption and damage to surrounding muscle and tissue, which may help patients recover faster.

“Allowed me to stand two inches taller, jog a little, swing a golf club, stand up all day and fish in a boat,” Switzer said. “A lot of people out there thinking they have back problems, when it’s really a hip problem.”


by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The...
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