Hip Replacement Gives Manahawkin Mom Her Life Back

MANAHAWKIN, NJ — Melissa Mazepa thought she was experiencing regular knee pain.

The 34-year-old mother of three was a runner for her whole life, even competing in track and field at Southern Regional High School. But that whole time, she also struggled with chronic pain. Mazepa was born with hip dysplasia, and as an infant had two surgeries that were intended to keep her from needing further surgeries, she said.

But in 2021, Mazepa began feeling knee pain and thought she pulled something. “I would go out every day to go running and halfway in every day I’d feel knee pain and have to stop,” she said.

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Mazepa stopped running for six months. But unlike other times she’d hurt herself, the pain wasn’t going away. In fact, it was getting worse. The pain was disabling, she said.

“I got an x-ray at AtlantiCare Urgent Care Manahawkin, and they were shocked at how much arthritis was in the hip,” Mazepa said. The doctor told her she needed to follow up with an orthopedic surgeon.

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She met with Dr. Fabio Orozco, director of Orthopedics at AtlantiCare, and by the end of summer 2022 Mazepa told him she was ready for surgery.

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Mazepa got the surgery on Nov. 11, 2022 – a year after first noticing the pain. It was a total hip arthroplasty. Orozco said that the technology can now last for decades or even the rest of a patient’s life. Her own bone grows into the titanium, he said.

“I immediately felt relief,” Mazepa said. She didn’t even realize the amount of pain she was in, she said. She was up walking just a few hours after the surgery, and was able to go home the same day.

Mazepa had been doing conservative treatment before, including physical therapy and medication. She was bartending at a casino in Atlantic City and just walking into work was so painful, she couldn’t work, she said.

Now, Mazepa is back to working two jobs and can spend much more time with her family.

“It is so good to see Melissa getting back to her back to herself and activities with her family during her recovery and how fast she recovered,” Orozco said.

“Most people I meet bartending are shocked when I tell them that I just had this done,” Mazepa said. “When I interact with people at work I tell them, ‘as soon as you feel any type of pain get it checked out.’ Don’t put off the replacement. They tell me they’ve been in pain 10 years, five years. I tell them, you need it.”

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