Sterling Furr is a true American cowboy. The now 28-year-old has belt buckles, saddles and other hardware won over the years to prove it. While racking up the awards, Sterling has also racked up his share of injuries from his days of riding sheep, steers and, most recently, bulls.
From a broken nose and collarbone to leg and hand fractures, Sterling has had them all, plus several surgeries to make repairs. Despite the inconveniences, he always found his way back on a bucking bull. Then he began experiencing hip pain that threatened to take him out of the arena for good.
Sterling could walk and jump without problems and go about his daily business. But when he got on a bull and spread his legs, that’s when the trouble began.
“Over time, my hips became more and more of a hinderance,” he says. “It just seemed like the only time they would bother me was after competing. It would take me a couple days to start feeling back to normal, so I’d limp around. It would basically cripple me.”
It got to where Sterling wasn’t able to perform to the level he wanted to for competitions, and he wasn’t able to progress in his sport. A doctor who was on-call for bull riders performed an X-ray and found bone spurs on both of Sterling’s hips.
Bone spurs can be caused by the wearing down of cartilage to the point that there’s no space left between two bones and they begin rubbing together. In Sterling’s case, tiny bone growths (or spurs) had formed on the edges of his hip bones to provide protection where cartilage once was.
When conservative treatments failed to offer much long-term relief for Sterling, an aunt in San Antonio who works as a nurse began doing some research. That’s when she found John Christoforetti, M.D., FAAOS, an orthopedic surgery and sports medicine physician at Texas Health Orthopedic Specialists, a Texas Health Physicians Group practice with locations across DFW.
Sterling made the nearly five-hour drive from his home in Boerne, Texas, to the Dallas area to meet with Christoforetti. “He had severe damage to the cartilage that he stands on,” Christoforetti explains. “And that damage was due to the shape change in his bones.”
Fixing the problem involved two arthroscopic procedures, one on each hip, to reshape the bone to a more normal shape by removing the spurs and sewing cartilage in place. The minimally invasive procedures were done six weeks apart; both allowed Sterling to keep his natural hip joints and promote optimal healing.
After six months of rest and light physical therapy, Sterling was ready to get back on a bull — pain free. “I feel better than ever and I couldn’t be more appreciative for what Dr. Christoforetti has done for me. With the work that Dr. Christoforetti has done, I don’t see anything standing in my way,” Sterling adds.
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