Open Accessibility Menu

Karen Dubrow – Anterior Hip Replacement Success Story



Even the toughest athletes can be sidelined in an instant, sometimes by the smallest of movements.

That’s what happened to lifelong athlete Karen Dubrow, PhD, DMT, PT, FAAOMPT, who runs her own golf fitness and physical therapy clinic in Plano. Until the accident, there wasn’t much that could keep her down.

“I played college soccer, trained for a triathlon while doing rotations earning my [physical therapy degree], and clocked 2,500 bike miles a year,” Dr. Dubrow says. “I’m a black belt in taekwondo and kenpo, which I’ve been practicing for 25 years.”

But it wasn’t a contact or endurance sport that brought Dr. Dubrow down in 2008. It was a game of laser tag with her family.

“I was turning to laser my niece, and when I twisted, I felt searing pain and fell to the ground,” she says.

A doctor in need of doctoring

Dr. Dubrow had torn the labrum in her hip. The labrum is a ring of cartilage that helps hold the ball at the top of the thighbone securely within the hip socket. Over the next eight years, she had four surgeries and multiple treatments, none of which eased her pain.

Knowing that a history of hip problems ran in her family — both her father and uncle had had hip replacements — Dr. Dubrow set out to do everything she could to avoid the same surgery.

“As a doctor of physical therapy, it’s my job to help people feel better, but the only patient I couldn’t fix was myself,” she says. “Each procedure helped for a little while until it didn’t, and each injection worked for a few months and then I’d feel exactly the same.”

Something had to change.

Tag team effort

After her last round of injections and an X-ray that didn’t provide much hope, Dr. Dubrow knew it was time to see her friend and orthopedic surgeon Diane Litke, MD, on the medical staff at Methodist Richardson Medical Center.

“While Karen wanted to do anything but a total hip replacement, we determined fairly quickly that an anterior approach hip replacement was the best option,” Dr. Litke says. “Compared to a traditional hip replacement, the anterior approach offers a shorter recovery time by avoiding cutting through muscle tissue and requires a smaller incision.”

In June 2016, Dr. Dubrow went in for surgery. In 90 minutes, she had a new hip — and later that same day, she went home.

“Karen wanted to go home the same day,” Dr. Litke says. “The reason I allowed her to is that she’s young and healthy at only 51, and because of her physical therapy and medical background, I knew she’d follow my instructions and take all appropriate precautions.”

Despite following doctor’s orders, Dr. Dubrow’s recovery didn’t go as planned.

“Because of her previous procedures, Karen had a significant amount of scar tissue buildup in her hip, which was inflamed and irritated, keeping her from recovering fully,” Dr. Litke says. The surgeon removed Dr. Dubrow’s scar tissue in September, allowing her to feel like herself again.

Back to helping, not hurting

Dr. Dubrow is back to treating patients and is rebuilding her strength and endurance.

“I’m part of the first generation of women who are able to play sports all of their lives, and I’m not planning on losing that title anytime soon,” she says.

Cycling and martial arts may be back on the table soon — but the jury is still out on laser tag.

From spring 2017 edition of Shine magazine