Consultant's pioneering surgery helps Ironman triathlete back on the road to fitness

A fitness fanatic who was left barely able to walk due to a hip condition completed an ironman triathlon just 14 months after pioneering key-hole surgery.

Jon Stead, 37, from Llandudno, suffered severe hip pain that prevented him doing any exercise whatsoever until he was treated by consultant hip and knee surgeon Mr Muthu Ganapathi at Spire Hospital in Wrexham.

The Ironman Wales triathlon involved a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride followed by a 26 mile 385 yard marathon - a challenge Jonathan completed in 11 hours 52 minutes after just eight months of training.

Mr Ganapathi with hip scope patient

Jon said: “I had debilitating hip pain that prevented me doing any physical exercise at all. I could just about walk but definitely couldn’t think about running or cycling.

“I’ve always been really physically fit and worked hard to keep in shape. I saw a consultant who recommended I make an appointment with Mr Ganapathi. I was told he was the best in his field.

“I had an initial appointment and Mr Ganapathi explained what he thought the problem was. An MRI scan confirmed the diagnosis and I then had a CT scan to look at the bone structure.

“Basically I had to have some bone shaved from the bones in my hip joint. I stayed overnight in the Spire Yale Hospital at Wrexham and Mr Ganapathi carried out the key-hole surgery.

“I was on crutches for four weeks afterwards and after five weeks I started swimming again.”

Jon, who works as a sales marketing manager, added: “After around 10 weeks I began building up my training with longer and longer walks and gentle runs as well as getting back on my bike.

“I then took part in the Ironman Wales challenge 14 months after having the surgery. The hip felt great and gave me no problems whatsoever. Other bones and muscles ached and were very sore but the hip was just fine.”

According to Mr Ganapathi, Jon’s problem was due to a condition called hip impingement caused by a mismatch between the ball and socket of the hip joint which can lead to arthritis in young adults. Often there is a bony bump and cartilage tear.

He said: “Surgeons became aware of this condition only in the past few years when they started looking at why people, particularly young people, develop hip arthritis.”

“The condition, hip impingement, commonly becomes symptomatic in people aged between 20 and 40 but I have treated patients in their teens to those in their sixties”.

“Pain typically occurs during running, climbing stairs and even after sitting for long periods and some may have a ‘clicking’ sensation in the hip.”


Surgeon Muthu Ganapathi in consultation with another patient, David Grove, after his successful knee replacement operation.

Mr Ganapathi was trained in the UK but he became more aware of the benefits of hip arthroscopy when he did a fellowship in Montreal, Canada.

He said: “Originally the treatment for hip impingement involved making a large incision and dislocating the hip joint to access the problem.”

“As the techniques have advanced we are now able to treat this condition by key-hole surgery which is better for the patient.”

“Although key-hole surgery is being commonly done on knees and shoulders, key-hole hip surgery is relatively new and technically more challenging as it is deep seated.”

He added: “In the whole of Wales there are probably only a handful of surgeons who are offering hip arthroscopy. And it is something we can offer at Spire Yale Hospital, Wrexham.”

“The benefits are obvious as it’s less invasive than open surgery. In addition to the bony bump, we also deal with cartilage tears which are often present with this condition”.

“But we also need to raise awareness among GPs and patients about this condition and treatment options available.”

“Initially, it would be appropriate to try non-operative means like activity modification, simple pain killers and physiotherapy. If symptoms don’t improve then we could consider surgical treatment.”

“Results do vary between patients and if arthritis is already present then the results of key-hole surgery are less optimal. In a way, timing is important.”

Mr Ganapathi is delighted with Jon Stead’s progress after hearing he completed the Ironman Wales triathlon.

He said: “In Mr Stead’s case, his hip impingement meant exercise, at least strenuous, exercise was out of the question.

“To hear of his achievement in completing such a gruelling event is very rewarding considering how he was so limited before the surgery.

“I’m delighted for him and pleased he continues to enjoy full pain free movement in relation to his hip.”

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