People tend to delay having hip replacement surgery for as long as possible, but is this the right thing to do or should you opt for surgery sooner? We consider whether there is a perfect time to have hip replacement surgery…
When is the Right Time to Have My Hip Replaced?
Most hip replacements are carried out on people between the ages of 60 and 80. Adults of any age can be considered for surgery but with most artificial hip joints lasting in the region of 15-20 years, people tend to delay as long as possible before having surgery, not wishing to undergo further surgery at a later date.
Like all surgery, hip replacement is an invasive procedure that has risks attached and surgeons are unwilling to recommend it unless it is considered necessary.
But, how do you tell when it has become necessary? By delaying too long, you may experience unnecessary pain when having surgery could alleviate or relieve it and give you a new lease of life.
Hip replacement is normally recommended in cases of severe osteoarthritis. It may also be proposed following hip fractures or as a result of inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or ankylosing spondylitis.
Generally, when the hip becomes so severely damaged that the pain, stiffness and loss of movement is having a serious detrimental impact on your function and quality of life, that is the time to consider having a hip replacement.
Before then, doctors will normally recommend other measures to help you to manage the symptoms. These include:
- Painkillers – anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen and painkillers such as paracetemol can help to manage the pain of osteoarthritis.
- Physiotherapy – this can help to strengthen weakened muscles surrounding your arthritic hip and may improve mobility and help you to manage pain. Many patients with hip pain also develop pain in the lower back and physical therapy may help with that, too.
- Corticosteroid injections into your hip joint – this is an injection of anti-inflammatory steroid medication into your hip joint. It may help to relieve some of the pain. The procedure can be repeated if necessary.
- PRP (platelet rich plasma) injections into your hip joint – this is an injection of your own specially prepared specific blood cells to help alleviate pain and improve your hip function.
While these measures will help to lessen the symptoms they will not address the root cause of the problem and, over time, the hip will continue to deteriorate and these treatments will become less effective.
Some of the signs that might indicate you should be considering surgery sooner rather than later are:
- Severe pain that is preventing you from performing everyday tasks or keeping you awake at night.
- Non-surgical treatments, such as lifestyle changes, painkillers, Corticosteroidal or PRP Injections, no longer provide relief from the symptoms.
- Tests show significant joint damage.
- You are experiencing physical, emotional and mental impacts from being in pain.
“As I had not undergone surgery for more than 70 years, I was understandably worried at the prospect of a total hip replacement. I am now 9 weeks post operation and I have to say that my concerns were unfounded. The understanding and reassurance given to me, and the dignity with which I was treated during my 5 day hospital stay were second to none. It has to be said that the operation was a success and that I am not worried about my other hip having to be replaced. My thanks are due to Mr. Carrothers and his entire team.” Patient of Carrothers Orthopaedics, 9 September 2018
Hip surgery is your choice
Hip replacement surgery is an elective procedure, which means it is not generally performed as an emergency and can be done when you are physically and emotionally ready. While some people may be fearful of undergoing a major surgical procedure, hip replacement is now a routine operation, recovery rates are relatively quick and the results are likely to lead to significant improvements in your quality of life. Evidence shows that it may even extend your life.
To prepare yourself emotionally for the procedure it is helpful to read articles and blogs like this one so you understand what is involved, how long the recovery is likely to take and whether there are any viable alternatives to surgery before making your decision. People who undergo hip replacement surgery often comment that they wish they had done it sooner.
Talk to your orthopaedic surgeon about your symptoms and whether or not now is the right time for you to consider having a hip replacement.