Arthritis in the hip can cause an inability to walk or move comfortably. The effects of this disease can seriously limit and hinder quality of life. Doctors may suggest a hip replacement, but it is important for the patient to understand when a joint replacement might help.
The Hospital for Special Surgery in New York specializes
in this kind of surgery. Associate Attending Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Edwin Su explains the loss of a gliding surface causes hips to feel still and limits motion. The arthritis can cause severe pain, particularly during walking and standing.
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Dr. Su recommends trying non-operative treatments before resorting to surgery. These treatments include losing weight to lessen the pressure on the hip-joint, taking a regimen of anti-inflammatory medicines and changing any activity that might make the pain worse. Using a cane while walking can help ease the pain.
If these treatments don’t work, then surgery might be a good choice. The two options would be a hip replacement or a hip resurfacing. Doctors can also attempt to cut the bone and realign the joint.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons describes total hip replacement surgery
as “one of the most successful operations in all of medicine.” It has been around since the 1960s and involves removing the damaged cartilage and bone and replacing it with a prosthetic. The prosthetics are either metal or ceramic and allow for the return of the gliding mechanism that gives people painless range of motion in the area.
Surgery is generally recommended once hip pain is simply unmanageable by other means and continues around the clock. A patient should be in good enough general health to be able to withstand the elective surgery. While hip replacements can be expected to last a long time, most people will be advised to stop high-impact activities like running or jumping after the replacement.
Another option may be hip resurfacing. Mayo Clinic doctor Mark Spangehel advises there are some risks to hip resurfacing
that have made it less popular than a hip replacement. The surgery does not replace the hip ball, but rather reforms it and caps it with a metal prosthesis. The result is two metal surfaces that rub together and can release metal into the bloodstream. It can also lead to bone fractures.
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