When is hip replacement necessary?

If you suffer from hip pain, you might be wondering when a hip replacement is necessary.  The answer is different for everyone, and of course, is dependent upon the cause of your hip pain.

Hip pain often occurs in older adults, though even some younger adults can experience this debilitating problem. Pain can occur for many reasons. Problems with the joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments around the hip can lead to mild to severe pain. Some people experience hip pain because of chronic conditions, injuries, and diseases in other parts of the body. 

One thing is for sure; hip pain can reduce the quality of life by impeding your ability to do activities you've always done. It can also be an ongoing problem. Hip replacement only becomes a consideration after you try all other possible remedies. Knowing the signs that it's time to get a hip replacement can help you get care when needed. It can reduce your discomfort and improve your overall quality of life. Below are seven signs you may need a hip replacement. 

1. Hip pain prevents you from doing what you love.

Do you love running, hiking, walking your dog, playing with your grandchildren? Hip pain can stop you from doing all of these things and more. Even just cooking breakfast or setting the table can become difficult with hip pain.

If hip pain prevents you from engaging in activities you love, and you've tried all the non-invasive remedies recommended by your doctor, and your doctor is recommending a hip replacement, it's probably time to make a move.  Each year more than 450,000 hip replacements are performed in the United States.  The benefit: the ability to do the things you love and stop the pain.

After hip replacement, you'll be able to:

  • Walk
  • Stand for prolonged periods
  • Squat
  • Climb stairs
  • Stand from a sitting position
  • Exercise and even ski (but only if you knew how to ski before.)

2. You're in pain even when you're not moving.

Many people who suffer from hip pain get a respite when they're not moving. Laying down or sitting can help patients to feel better. And they may feel a little better after, even when they start moving again. If your hip is significantly damaged or if your problem is especially severe, then you may experience pain even when sitting or lying down.

3. You have severe arthritis in your hip.

Two types of arthritis can affect your hips:

  • Osteoarthritis. This condition occurs when the cartilage that cushions your bones at the joints gradually begins to deteriorate. 
  • Rheumatoid arthritis. People with rheumatoid arthritis have an overactive immune system that attacks the tissues in the joints, leading to inflammation and pain. 

Some people manage their arthritis pain with rest, ice, or pain relievers. If they are overweight, losing weight can help. A doctor may recommend other options to relieve pain, such as steroid shots or physical therapy.  When all these options have been tried, your physician may discuss the possibility of a minimally invasive or total hip replacement.  

4. You've damaged your hip.

A hip fracture can occur after a car accident, after a fall, or even just by standing and twisting your leg incorrectly. Some people are at greater risk for a hip fracture than others. People most likely to experience this condition either have a pre-existing condition leading to weak bones, a nutritional deficiency, or take certain medications.  

Many people who experience a hip fracture are unable to regain their independence after their injury. If an orthopedic surgeon recommends hip replacement, it is possible to regain independence and should be given serious consideration.

5. There is no other cause for your pain.

If your hip is your number one cause of pain, then a hip replacement could solve your problem. If other issues have complicated your hip pain, you need to address those issues first.

Back problems, knee issues, tendonitis, spine issues, and tight muscles are all problems that can exacerbate or even cause hip pain. When this is the case, a hip replacement may not address the problem's true nature and could lead to further hip pain, even after a replacement. Only by addressing the original cause of the problem can you truly treat your hip pain. 

6. Pain from your hip is affecting your mood and happiness.

Constant pain can significantly affect a person's mood and happiness. Pain and depression are closely related, and people who suffer from pain often struggle to find joy in their daily life. Some people experience depression because they are no longer able to engage in their most rewarding activities. Others become depressed because of the stress that comes from the pain and the inevitable lack of sleep that comes from difficulty walking. 

7. You're having difficulty walking.

Hip pain can become so detrimental that some people become wheelchair users in a matter of years. For people with hip pain, basic movements like dancing, going up and down steps, or running to catch a young family member are unthinkable activities. If this describes you, then don't be afraid of getting a hip replacement because it can change your entire life. 

What to expect during a hip replacement surgery

To perform your hip replacement surgery, your surgeon will make an incision and cut through the tissue surrounding the hip. He or she then removes all diseased or damaged bone and cartilage in the socket. Lastly, the doctor replaces the hip bone with a prosthetic. This prosthetic will attach to your femur and will rest in the socket of your pelvis. 

Some people go home the same day as their hip replacement surgery, while others stay in the hospital for one or two nights. How long you stay depends on your condition, age, and other factors that affected why you needed the hip replacement in the first place. 

You'll need physical therapy after your hip replacement surgery. Activity and exercise will help. Your physical therapist will teach you to use a walking aid, then guide you to walk without an aid at all. 

At home, things may not be the same for a while after your surgery. You'll be unable to bend over and pick items up off the floor, so anything usually kept on the floor should be moved to a higher location if you need access to those objects. When you've recovered, you can start to place frequently used items on the floor again, if that's where they belong. 

The initial recovery period generally takes about 6 to 12 weeks, but further recovery and strengthening of the muscles can take up to a year after the surgery. 

Is hip replacement surgery worth it?

If you can find no break from the discomfort in your hip, it's probably time for a replacement. You don't have to feel pain when you're sitting, laying down, or standing up. 

The key to ensuring that your hip replacement surgery will be worthwhile is to work with an orthopedic surgeon specializing in hip replacement and has experience with the latest techniques. Look for an orthopedic surgeon who performs anterior hip replacement, which has a faster recovery time than posterior replacement. 

Not that long ago, Dr. Bron met with a patient experiencing intense hip pain. Her primary care doctor felt her pain was simply the result of her age, and hip pain was her future. At the time, she was wheelchair-bound. Having been very active all her life, she came to Dr. Bron because she couldn't accept her doctor's diagnosis. Dr. Bron performed total hip replacement surgery, and that patient now walks two miles to work every day.

Dr. Tyler Bron

Colorado Springs Orthopaedic Group
4110 Briargate Parkway, Suite 300
Colorado Springs, CO 80920
Patient Resources Phone: (719) 632-7669
Fax: (719) 632-0088

Dr.Bron@ColoradoHipKneeDoc.com

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