Dear I.S.: That’s a question you and your orthopedic surgeon will have to answer together. However, when non-surgical treatments aren’t providing enough relief for you to enjoy life the way you’d like, the time may be right to consider hip replacement surgery.
Hip replacement involves replacing the painful, damaged parts of the hip with artificial parts called prostheses or implants.
Hip replacement surgery has been very successful at helping to increase mobility, improving the function of the hip joint, and relieving pain. It is estimated that each year, more than 330,000 Americans who have suffered from hip pain and arthritis have experienced relief and restored mobility through total hip replacement, allowing them to return to their normal, everyday activities.
Here are some signs to consider when deciding if it may be time for a hip replacement: Hip joint damage is visible on X-ray; You have frequent pain, swelling, and stiffness in your hip; The pain and stiffness in your hip interferes with your daily life and limits your mobility; Medication and using a cane aren’t delivering enough relief; Your pain prevents you from sleeping; You have difficulty walking or climbing stairs; You feel a “grating” of your joint.
Your doctor may suggest that you lose weight and initiate an exercise program. If you smoke, be sure to speak with your doctor about it as smoking can significantly increase surgical risks and slow down the healing process.
The procedure is performed through an incision in the area of the hip. The ball-end of the thighbone (femur) is cut and replaced with the new ball and stem components. The stem may be stabilized with or without cement. The damaged surface of the socket is smoothed in preparation for insertion of the new socket. The ball and socket are then joined.
Following surgery, you will begin a rehabilitation program prescribed by your surgeon to help strengthen the muscles around your new hip and regain your range of motion. As you heal you will progress from walker or crutches to a cane.
In most cases, (about 6 to 8 weeks) successful total hip replacement will relieve your pain and stiffness, and allow you to resume many of your normal daily activities.