Is it time for a hip replacement?

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Is it time for a hip replacement?

When your joints are hurting, life can become miserable, especially when you’re having chronic hip pain.  Healthy hip joints are important – they give you stability to carry your body weight and the ball-and-socket anatomy gives you the ability to rotate and to move forward.  Your hip joints are also one of the foundations of your body, a place where many different muscles and tendons attach.

But when you have suffered for a long time from hip pain and non-surgical treatments are no providing relief, then it may be time for a hip replacement.

Before rushing to make a decision, have a conversation with your doctor to get their opinion and recommendation of a hip replacement surgery.  Like any surgery, you need to weigh the risks and benefits before having this major surgery.  You also need to understand that after the surgery is completed, weeks of physical rehabilitation will be necessary to restore normal movement in your joint.  Working with a physical therapist, rehabilitation will also build up strength in the joint and surrounding muscles, ease pain and swelling, helps with circulation to prevent blood clots and will allow you to get back to your normal activities much sooner than without rehabilitation.

Keep in mind that hip pain can have a number of causes, not all of which can be relieved by a hip joint replacement.  For instance, constant or long-lasting stiffness in your hip joint can be a sign of rheumatoid arthritis while pain that centers in the buttocks region and radiates down the leg may be related to sciatica

However, many cases of hip pain and discomfort are directly related to your hip joint. 

Signs and symptoms indicating a need for a hip replacement

Here are signs your body is telling you its likely time for a hip replacement:

·      You can no longer complete daily tasks without help

·      You have significant pain, like pain that keep you awake at night despite the use of medications.  Or you have pain that keeps you from being able to walk or bend over, pain that isn’t relieved by rest, or pain that isn’t helped anymore by non-surgical approaches

·      Your doctor says that less-complicated surgical procedures are unlikely to help

·      You have osteoarthritis and feel the disease is wearing you down physically, emotionally, and mentally

·      You are suffering severe side effects from the medications for your painful hip. 

·      Tests show advanced arthritis or significant joint damage

·      Your hip pain worsens during rainy weather

·      You have a “grating” feeling in your hip joint

·      You are experiencing increasing difficulty in climbing stairs, getting in or out of cars, bathtubs, and chairs

Determining if hip replacement surgery is needed

An orthopedic surgeon will be the doctor who decides if you are a good candidate for hip replacement surgery.  They will do a thorough examination which includes:

·      A complete medical history evaluation, including any previous injuries or illnesses that could be contributing to your pain

·      A physical assessment to determine your range of motion, pain level and the strength of your affected hip

·      They may order additional medical testing, including MRIs and X-rays

Always be sure to discuss any questions or concerns you may have about the surgery or recovery from it.  Here is a list of questions helping you make your decision on choosing an orthopedic surgeon right for you:

·      Are you board-certified in orthopedic surgery?

·      Are you fellowship trained?

·      How often do you perform this surgery?

·      What kind of results would you expect for someone in my condition?

·      May I speak with any of your patients who have had this surgery?

·      What complications occur most frequently and how do you deal with them?

·      Do you usually work with a physical therapist or rehabilitation center?

Once you have your questions answered and have thoroughly discussed with the surgeon all options, then should you be able to make the right decision for you.