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[Donna DeGenaro has been barrel racing for seven years. As a former competitive swimmer and marathoner, DeGenaro says her neighbor introduced her to the sport and her competitive nature took over.]
When competitive horse barrel racer and Warner Springs resident Donna DeGenaro starting having pain in her left hip, her trainer knew without asking. Horse trainer Julie Martindale detected improper riding technique, caused by DeGenaro compensating for the pain, which got so bad that DeGenaro stopped riding her newly acquired Quarter Horse named Cash and left him for Martindale to train.
The pain was especially apparent on trail rides, with the up and down movement of trotting aggravating the injury even more than racing.
“The pain was taking the pleasure out of my passion,” DeGenaro said.
This wasn’t the first time DeGenaro experienced hip pain. As a competitive marathoner, she had her right hip replaced in 2008 by Palomar Health Orthopedic Surgeon Thomas Knutson, MD. She said her primary care physician had recommended Dr. Knutson saying he wouldn’t operate unless absolutely necessary.
“He’s a fantastic surgeon,” DeGenaro said of Dr. Knutson. “A lot of people I know in Escondido say he’s the best.”
After having such great success replacing her right hip, DeGenaro says she wouldn’t consider anyone else. During her first office visit with Dr. Knutson, they decided to try anti-inflammatories, as DeGenaro says he only recommends surgery as a last resort. But the pain wouldn’t go away and not wanting to give up riding horses, they decided to do a left hip replacement.
Dr. Knutson performed the surgery on July 19, 2017 at the Palomar Health Orthopedic and Spine Center in Escondido. Following Palomar Health’s innovative pathway program, DeGenaro was up and walking within hours of surgery while taking only Ibuprofen for pain, which resulted in fewer complications, quicker rehabilitation and more time spent enjoying life. By the time she left the hospital the next day, she was completely off any medication and says the only thing that hurt was her surgical incision.
DeGenaro says her stay at Palomar Medical Center Escondido was “like staying at the Ritz Carlton. The facility is beautiful, the room was really nice and the staff is awesome.”
Within four weeks of surgery, she was back riding her horse at a walking pace. Two weeks later she was training and within two months of surgery, she was back competing.
“It’s the greatest feeling in the world,” DeGenaro says of being pain free. “It’s nice to focus on riding and not the pain.”
These days you can find DeGenaro riding on one of her two horses at her Warner Springs ranch or at barrel racing competitions throughout Southern California and Nevada. She has already taken second place in a competition and plans at 56 years of age to move into a more challenging division.
“I tend to be competitive,” DeGenaro says.
Palomar Health’s Orthopedic and Spine Center delivers complete care, ranging from non-surgical treatments that pinpoints pain at the source to minimally invasive surgery that resolves complex conditions with lasting results. The multidisciplinary team works together in utilizing state-of-the-art methods and fostering a caring environment, helping patients get back to everyday activity as quickly, comfortably, and safely as possible. To learn more, visit the Palomar Health website.