Hip replacement surgery is a reliable treatment correcting problems that lie within the largest joint in the body—the hip. However, not all hip issues need to be resolved with surgery, although there are situations where it may be necessary.
To help assess if hip replacement surgery is for you, we’ve listed some of the instances that would likely require you to consider professional care. Do keep in mind that the information we provide, however medically factual and vetted by a doctor, should never replace a medical consultation with an orthopaedic surgeon. However, the situations and instances mentioned below should tell you when you might need to seek medical help.
Read: Patient’s Guide When Seeking Orthopaedic Care in Singapore
What are the instances where you might need hip replacement surgery?
1. You sustained an injury to the hipsSometimes, an injury is severe enough to damage the hips and your ability to use it. But even seemingly minor accidents can trigger hip pain, depending on the extent of the injury sustained internally. As such, the level and frequency of the pain you feel is an indicator that the joints might be damaged, especially when it becomes quite difficult for you to move the joint.
2. Your hip hurts even while at rest
Walking uphill is hard enough even for healthy people. But it’s not normal when it becomes unusually painful, especially at the sides of the hips down to the lower buttocks.
Taking a break and ceasing all movement usually takes care of the problem, and you should be feeling better after a short. But if hip pain persists even after you’ve given it a rest, it’s best to have it checked by a medical professional.
Another thing: hip pain during nightime may occur when hip tendons become inflamed. Pain in the hip could also be due to compression or overloading the hips, and not taking time out to recover from the exertion.
3. Your hip is stiff and swollen, affecting your range of motion
Stiff and swollen hips can be painful and limiting, and there are several potential causes behind it, including an acute injury or a chronic problem. In some cases, hip swelling and stiffness may be due to conditions like osteoarthritis (OA), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and certain types of bursitis (inflammation of the fluid-filled sacs around your joints), such as inflammatory bursitis and trochanteric bursitis.In less severe cases, osteotomy surgery may be appropriate. It’s a type of surgery that cuts and repositions the joint surfaces in such a way that the healthy part of the hip joint is made to bear most of your body weight. However, only a select group of patients are candidates for an osteotomy. On the other hand, total hip replacement is required if the hip joint has been severely damaged.
4. It’s getting harder to perform basic tasks without assistanceWhen it’s getting difficult for you to do everyday tasks like walking, bending, or climbing up the stairs, then something could be injured within the hip. This is a clear sign that you need medical attention. With proper evaluation, your doctor could recommend physical therapy, medications, or even surgical intervention to correct structural issues that are causing the hip pain. Surgery is potentially needed, especially if an extensive injury was sustained.
5. You’ve tried everything, but nothing alleviates the pain
Fortunately, there are different ways to address hip pain without surgery. But it’s also possible that none of it can be effective for you. So, when all other measures have been exhausted and relief is not forthcoming, your orthopaedic surgeon may suggest a surgical alternative to correct the problem.
Read: 10 Frequently Asked Questions on Hip Arthroscopy
6. Hip pain is bad enough to affect your mental/emotional wellbeing
Living with chronic pain is detrimental to a person’s mental health. Furthermore, it makes a person more susceptible to emotional changes that can trigger depression, anxiety, and even fear. And while painkillers may be prescribed by your doctor, long-term use puts you at risk for dependence on prescription medications, especially opioids.
In the long run, lingering pain can degrade a person’s psychosocial well-being. As such, if you have been advised by the doctor that surgery can help address the underlying cause of the pain, then you might want to consider it. Hip replacement, not medication, could be the solution that gives the physiological and psychological relief you need.
7. You want long-lasting relief
Some of the treatments for hip pain only provide temporary relief. For instance, pain medications only last a few hours. On the other hand, the effects of intraarticular steroid hip injections are less effective in the long term because the effects can only last a few weeks. Meanwhile, the efficaciousness of a hip replacement surgery has been noted to last up to 20 years. Therefore, it’s important to seek medical advice immediately, so you can get the appropriate treatment as soon as possible.
What happens during a hip replacement surgery?
Your hip joint is a ball and socket joint that sits right above your thigh bone. During a hip replacement surgery, your orthopaedic surgeon will replace the damaged ball and socket with parts made of metal and plastic materials. These artificial parts help your hip joint work normally, allowing you to move and do everyday things the way a regular person would—depending on the extent of the hip damage and treatment, of course.
Do note that hip replacement surgery is often not a one-off deal. Depending on the extent of the hip injury and other indications, a patient can undergo total hip replacement, partial hip replacement surgery, or hip resurfacing, which only a doctor can diagnose.
There are many conditions that may be causing your hip pain and some are more serious than others, which is why self-diagnosis is not advised. Seek help only from a board-certified physician or an orthopaedic surgeon for specialised care. Having it checked as soon as possible could save your hip from deteriorating any further. Deciding whether or not to have hip replacement surgery can be difficult, but it’s harder having to live with a nagging hip pain that could potentially get worse as time goes by.
If you have any of the symptoms above and you wish to properly address the root cause behind it, you may book a consultation with A/Professor Andrew Dutton today not just for pain relief but also for your peace of mind.