If hip pain or stiffness is interfering with your daily activities, hip replacement surgery may relieve your discomfort, increase your mobility, and ultimately have a profound impact on your life. However, as with any other type of elective surgery, you’ll want to feel confident that a hip replacement is right for you before you proceed.
Only you can make this important decision. However, you may find it helpful to talk with an experienced orthopedic surgeon who can provide you with personalized advice after carefully considering multiple factors. For instance, here are four signs that you could benefit from hip replacement surgery:
1. Conservative Treatment No Longer Provides Sufficient Pain Relief
Many people who have painful conditions that affect their hip joint, such as osteoarthritis, benefit from conservative treatments, such as:
- Physical therapy – Targeted stretches and exercises can enhance joint flexibility and strengthen the muscles that support the hip.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – By reducing inflammation in the hip joint, NSAIDs can alleviate the associated pain.
- Steroid injections – A powerful anti-inflammatory medication can be injected directly into the painful area of the hip.
While conservative therapies can improve function and make hip pain more tolerable, it is important to understand that they cannot cure the underlying condition that is causing the pain. Also, while nonsurgical treatment may be effective for you initially, there may come a time when it no longer provides you with adequate relief. If you’ve reached that point, your surgeon may suggest hip replacement surgery.
2. Your Pain Is Chronic & Severe
Pain is the reason most frequently cited by people who seek hip replacement surgery. In addition to causing discomfort in and around your hip, damage to your hip joint can cause chronic and severe pain in your buttocks, upper leg, and knee. It may be time for you to consider surgery if:
- You must take medications to deal with your pain
- You are experiencing side effects from your prolonged use of pain-relieving medications, such as tolerance (decreased effectiveness) or stomach irritation
- Your pain interferes with your sleep
- You have difficulty standing, walking, or bending from your hips
- You rely on a walking aid, such as a cane or walker
3. Your Hip Joint Is Significantly Damaged
Your hip is a ball-and-socket joint in which the head of your upper leg bone (femur) fits into a socket in your pelvic bone (acetabulum). Articular cartilage, a flexible connective tissue, helps reduce friction between these bones as they glide against each other during movement. Inflammation caused by osteoarthritis or another joint condition can cause the cartilage to break down and wear away. Without the cushioning effect of cartilage, the bones in your hip joint may begin to grind painfully together. If you have extensive hip joint damage, hip replacement surgery may be your only option for finding sufficient pain relief.
4. Your Hip Pain Is Affecting Your Mental or Emotional Health
Hip pain can clearly affect your physical health. However, it can take an equally significant—but often less obvious—toll on your mental and emotional health as well. Even if you are able to tolerate your pain, the effects of doing so over several months or years can ultimately wear you down both mentally and emotionally. In fact, chronic pain has been linked to anxiety and depression in many patients. If chronic hip pain is jeopardizing any aspect of your well-being—physical, mental, or emotional—you may want to consider a hip replacement.
Find Out If You’re a Candidate for Hip Replacement
When deciding whether to proceed with a hip replacement, the most important factor to keep in mind is the extent to which your painful hip is affecting your quality of life. Even if you are able to manage the pain, you may find that it makes it difficult or impossible for you to perform routine tasks, such as showering, getting dressed, and walking short distances. If so, you may be a candidate for hip replacement surgery.
To learn more and receive personalized advice from a board-certified orthopedic surgeon, contact the office of Peter D. Vizzi, MD, in Lafayette, LA. Dr. Vizzi can help you find the best treatment option for your hip pain.