Hip Surgery, Orthopedic Surgery

November 17, 2014

Is There a “Right Time” to Get a Hip Replacement?

film x-ray human's pelvis and arthritis at both hip joint (Gout , Rheumatoid)

It may be time to speak to a surgeon about total hip replacement surgery if your chronic hip pain is limiting you from enjoying your life.

Are you tired of continuous hip pain? If so, then it could be time for total hip replacement surgery—also known as arthroplasty of the hip. Of course, the “right time” for a hip replacement varies from person to person based on age, severity of symptoms, and other medical conditions. By being aware of the most common signs that the time has come and what you can expect from a hip replacement, you will be in a better position to make the best decision for you and your body.

Signs It May Be Time for Hip Replacement
There are many painful conditions that can ultimately lead to a total hip replacement, including osteoarthritis, congenital deformities, fractures, and blood loss to the bone called avascular necrosis. Even though hip replacement surgery is among the most common joint replacement procedures, with 330,000 surgeries performed each year in the US, the fact remains that most surgeons prefer to delay total hip replacement for as long as safely possible. This is because total hip replacement surgery is still surgery, which means it can come with complications. Some surgeons have even found that patients who encounter the most complications with their hip replacement are those who had the procedure performed too early.

If your chronic hip pain doesn’t yet limit your activities, such as exercising or performing daily tasks, or if medications and other treatments are relieving your symptoms, it is not yet time for you to consider a hip replacement.

Generally, it may be the right time to talk to your doctor about the possibility of having a hip replacement if you have begun to experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Your hip pain is severe enough to regularly wake you up at night.
  • Despite therapy or other treatments, your hip pain is still persistent.
  • Your hip pain prevents you from engaging in everyday activities.
  • Your hip pain keeps you from enjoying and participating in your hobbies, such as traveling.

It is important to note, however, that experiencing any or all of the above symptoms does not necessarily mean your doctor will clear you for hip replacement surgery. He or she will need to carefully assess other important factors, such as your age, bone health, bone density, and overall health.

What to Expect From Total Hip Replacement Surgery
If your doctor believes you are a good candidate for a hip replacement, then you can look forward to significant improvement in your overall hip movement and a significant reduction of your pain. It is also important for you to have realistic expectations.

A good example is the lifespan of your hip implant. Depending on your age when you have the procedure done, you may need to have your hip joint repaired or replaced again within 15 to 20 years, as these devices simply are not made to last forever.

During the procedure itself, prepare to receive either a general anesthetic or a full spinal block, based on your surgeon and anesthesiologist’s discretion. Depending on which approach your surgeon chooses, an incision will be then be made through the skin either more anteriorly or laterally over the hip joint, at which point any damaged bone will be removed. Then, the new prosthetic socket will be implanted, as will the new round top of your femur bone.

While full recovery following hip replacement surgery can take up to 12 months, many patients find that after at-home therapy, physical therapy, and regular follow-up appointments with your surgeon, you can be back to your normal activities without pain after just 3 months. Minimally invasive approaches can also typically get patients back in action more quickly because the muscle is not cut and it requires a smaller incision, but you would need to discuss this with your surgeon to see which approach fits your situation best.

If you have been experiencing chronic hip pain and think the time has come for a total hip replacement surgery, contact Arkansas Surgical Hospital. Call (877) 918-7020 to schedule an appointment and learn more about how surgery at our hospital can relieve your pain.

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