Am I a Candidate for Joint Replacement Surgery?
Arthritis and severe hip injury may lead to extreme pain or even inability to
walk. Some doctors may recommend total hip replacement surgery for patients with
severe hip problems. Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and traumatic
arthritis are three common causes of hip pain and immobility. If you have a
family history of osteoarthritis and you're developing mobility restrictions due
to hip pain, you could be a candidate for hip replacement surgery.
Candidates for Hip Replacement Surgery
Candidates for hip replacement surgery aren't easily recognized by age, class or
activity level. Many patients are between the ages of 60 and 80, but hip
replacement surgery isn't confined to the elderly. The successful candidate for
total hip replacement surgery often has pain that limits or completely
alleviates everyday activities such as standing or walking. Hip pain often keeps
them awake at night, potentially causing more health problems. Stiffness in the
hip may limit movement such as sitting or even lying down. Candidates for hip
replacement often find very little or no relief from anti-inflammatory
medications and gait aids such as a cane or walker do not ease the pain.
Surgical and Nonsurgical Treatment
The best nonsurgical treatment for hip joint problems is an anti-inflammatory
medication such as ibuprofen. Glucosamine, a nutritional supplement, may also
provide relief from hip joint pain caused by arthritis or serious injury.
Physical therapy may provide temporary relief from some hip pain including
stiffness and weakness. A cane or walker may improve mobility slightly and help
for a time. If you've tried all recommended nonsurgical treatments, surgery
could be your next step.
Pain and immobility are serious issues and need to be addressed; sometimes
surgery is the only way to really fix the problem. Arthroscopy is an outpatient
procedure in which pieces of cartilage or loose fragments of bone are removed.
It is minimally invasive and often brings relief within a day or two. If
arthritis is caught early, osteotomy may be an option. Osteotomy involves
realigning the bone and joint of the hip and maybe the femur to decrease
pressure on the hip joint. This procedure could delay the need for total hip
replacement surgery by about 10 years.
What to Expect
While total hip replacement will likely make it much easier to move and walk, it
may not solve all of your problems. You need to be aware of what to expect after
your surgery. The reduction of pain and improvement of mobility are major issues
that are generally always addressed with hip replacement. While total hip
replacement will make daily activities easier, it will not give you super powers
to do things you couldn't do before your hip problems appeared.
After surgery you will be warned about certain activities. Jogging and jumping
should be avoided for the rest of your life. The high impact can damage the
artificial hip and cause more problems in the long run. In addition to avoiding
high impact exercises, you should avoid certain positions that could lead to
dislocation of the joint. Normal wear and tear will happen over the coming
years, undue stress on the artificial joint should be avoided. Because the joint
is prosthetic doesn’t mean it won't still cause pain if it becomes damaged.