Reasons You Might Need a Hip Replacement
If you are experiencing pain and swelling and finding it difficult to move, these are common signs you might need a hip replacement. While these symptoms tend to be consistent, they could be caused by several medical conditions. The most obvious of these is a traumatic injury. Torn muscles and ligaments are commonplace among those who enjoy sports, and these injuries often clear up with pain relief and rest alone or require only relatively minor surgery. By contrast, more severe conditions affecting the joint’s bones may require a more radical approach. One of the distinguishing characteristics of these conditions is that patients experience pain even while at rest.
The most common reason for performing a hip replacement is to relieve the effects of osteoarthritis. In health, the articulating surfaces of our joints are coated with a layer of cartilage. In the joint under discussion, the purpose is to ensure that the movement of the femoral head within the acetabular socket is smooth and friction-free. However, a lifetime of constant activity, often strenuous, will frequently erode this protective layer, exposing the bone surfaces beneath and leaving them prone to wear and tear.
A factor that is known to speed up the erosion process is excess weight. The marked increase in the incidence of obesity has seen the average age of patients with osteoarthritis and requiring a hip replacement fall sharply. Although it was once confined mainly to people aged 65 and over, orthopaedic surgeons report that many patients in their early fifties and even younger and those seriously overweight are now presented with this condition.
Pelvic fractures are a common outcome of motor vehicle accidents but also occur frequently in elderly subjects due to falls. Immobilisation may suffice to repair some fractures. However, if the damage is extensive and involves the femoral head or the acetabular socket, the only option may be to replace the affected parts with prosthetic ones. Other conditions that may necessitate a hip replacement include rheumatoid arthritis and disorders that may cause abnormal bone growth.
However, apart from complex fractures, these pathologies are usually diagnosed early and don’t require immediate surgical intervention. More often than not, the pain can be managed with more palliative treatments, such as analgesics and physiotherapy. However, these conditions are progressive, and the symptoms will intensify over time. At some point, the conservative approach will no longer prove adequate. People’s tolerance for pain varies. The following guidelines should help you decide when it’s time to make an appointment with an orthopaedic specialist to discuss whether only a hip replacement will bring you long-lasting relief.
If you are experiencing the following problems, it’s time to take action.
- Your pain medication and physiotherapy no longer relieve your discomfort.
- The pain interferes with your ability to perform everyday tasks, such as bending and climbing stairs, making you irritable or depressed.
- Your hip is painful even when resting and frequently makes it difficult to sleep.
- Your joint is so stiff that it impairs your mobility.
The orthopaedic unit of the Wilgers Life Hospital in Pretoria is a national and international referral centre for shoulder, knee and hip replacement surgery. If you wish to learn more about these procedures, please download this informative file.