Patty Conklin isn’t one to complain. It could be that her no-nonsense outlook took root early in her life. Months after she was born, doctors realized she had a congenital defect in her left hip that caused pain and a discrepancy in the lengths of her legs.
“When I was nine months old, I started to walk, and my family realized that there was something wrong,” said Ms. Conklin. “The doctors discovered that one of my legs was shorter than the other, so I was put in a full-body cast.”
Being in a full-body cast for nine months sounds like a miserable time for anyone, but it apparently wasn’t for Ms. Conklin. “My mom said I was the happiest baby she’d ever seen,” said the 64-year-old Queens native. “I’ve learned a lot throughout my life, and there are things that you just have no control over.”
While Ms. Conklin couldn’t control what she was born with, she could make the best of it, and she did.
“I went on to be pretty normal with one leg shorter than the other,” she explained. “I learned how to compensate and make it work for me. I was a waitress for most of my working life, so that made my hip a lot stronger. I walked a lot, and I danced, too.”
Ms. Conklin didn’t let her leg discrepancy hold her back. She did want to treat it, but she never got the medical answers she had hoped for.
“I had gone to different surgeons throughout the years, and they all said they didn’t want to touch my leg,” Ms. Conklin said. “Or they told me I should wait for medical technology to advance, or even wait until my pain got very bad.”
“Dr. Krauss looked at my X-ray and said, ‘I can fix that.’ And I looked at him and I said, ‘Well then, my hip is yours. Do it!’ He explained everything, and I walked out of his office feeling elated. I trusted him completely.”
“Although it is rather rare to see these types of fully dislocated hips today, I have taken care of many in my career,” said Dr. Krauss. “Her hip socket was undeveloped and thus very shallow.”
As a result of the hip joint not developing as a round ball and a socket, the leg was shorter by almost two inches, and the cartilage that provides a cushion between the two bones gets ground away, which results in a painful, bone-on-bone joint. Motion becomes limited and painful, along with a lurching, painful gait.
Today, this condition is extremely rare, since all infants are checked at birth. If they are found to have a congenital dislocated hip, they are treated in the early weeks by swaddling them and keeping the legs spread. This causes the socket to develop and deepen in their first months of development.
“I was able to reconstitute and recreate an anatomical hip socket and to significantly lengthen her leg,” Dr. Krauss explained. “With therapy to rebuild her muscles, her gait will improve tremendously, as will her mobility. Most important, pain will eventually fully resolve.”
Ms. Conklin had rehabilitation following her surgery and continued with physical therapy a few times a week. Only a month after surgery, her quality of life had changed.
“I’m walking around now and I have no pain, absolutely no pain!” said Ms. Conklin. “You have to see the X-rays to believe it. Dr. Krauss did a fabulous job!”
In the recovery room, her sister was quite emotional, saying, “I wish our mother was alive to see this.” Dr. Krauss added, “She told me how upset their mother was knowing that this was somewhat hereditary. I told them that the good news is that, wherever mom is, she is looking down and happy.”