When is it time for a hip replacement?

Health
man with hip pain

An aching hip can make life miserable. But deciding to have joint replacement surgery requires thought and discussion with your physician. After all, it’s a major procedure that requires significant rehabilitation afterward.
You may have heard you should wait to have joint replacement surgery until you can no longer stand the pain, but that’s not the case. In fact, waiting too long can be counterproductive.
Since artificial joints last longer than ever before, there’s no need to wait until you’re in your 70s or 80s to have a replacement, says Dr. Mark Rowley, an orthopedic surgeon who practices at  Tidelands Health Orthopedics locations in Murrells Inlet and at The Market Common. If pain is interfering with your normal activity levels, it’s perfectly acceptable to explore joint replacement surgery.

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What’s more, it’s possible to put off hip replacement surgery for so long that other health conditions prevent you from having the surgery at all, he says.
“If you develop multiple medical problems, that can make surgery too risky,” he says. “For example, sometimes patients become so debilitated by their hip pain that they’re unable to remain active, which can lead to hypertension, depression and other concerns.”

How to decide

If you are thinking about hip replacement surgery, here are some ways to help determine if it may be right for you:
1. The pain affects your ability to perform activities of daily living such as bathing, grooming, cooking or shopping.
2. You are unable or limited in your ability to work or participate in activities you enjoy.
3. Anti-inflammatory pain relievers such as ibuprofen aren’t effective at treating your pain.
4. Low-impact exercises and/or physical therapy no longer help reduce your symptoms.

If you are suffering from hip pain and considering surgery, Rowley cautioned against relying upon narcotic pain relievers.
“Opioids worsen pain in the long run, and the surgical results aren’t as good,” he says. “Multiple studies have shown that patients just don’t do as well.”
For example, a study conducted at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston found that patients who took opioids daily before joint replacement surgeries stayed in the hospital longer, had higher costs and a greater risk for complications that required another surgical intervention.
“If you are unsure if a replacement is right for you, discuss it with your physician,” Dr. Rowley says. “We’re here to help.”

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