Can you imagine how it would feel to wake up in the morning and hop out of bed without any pain or stiffness? If you suffer from arthritis in one or both hips, you probably feel like that would be a dream come true. Chronic pain, like the kind caused by hip arthritis, can be debilitating. It can lead to an overall worsening of not only your quality of life, but also your physical and mental health. Treatments like pain medications, massage and physical therapy are helpful in the earlier stages of arthritis, but as the disease progresses, surgery may be your best option. Now this is when your dream of a pain-free morning can come true because having hip replacement surgery really changes your life in more ways than you think!
Before Hip Replacement Surgery
While osteoarthritis (degenerative arthritis) is not the only thing that will cause chronic hip pain, it is the most likely reason someone might need hip replacement surgery. Osteoarthritis is very common in older adults because it is caused by injury and/or wear and tear on your joints over time. High impact sports and exercise, repetitive movements, and extra weight can all put stress on your weight-bearing joints. Eventually, cartilage in the joints wears down, protective lubricating fluids are diminished, and the bones of the joint can become damaged. This all leads to inflammation and pain. While arthritis is the disease that causes the damage to your hip joints, it is the symptom of pain that will drive your need for surgery. Pain in and of itself can have a very detrimental effect on your health, so relief of pain will lead to a much healthier “you”. Taking a closer look at what chronic pain can do to your physical health, your ability to perform the tasks of your everyday life and your emotional health will give you a better understanding of all the benefits of hip replacement surgery.
As I’m sure you know, the more intense your hip pain is and the more time you spend in pain, the less likely you are to participate in various activities and tasks. Inevitably, most people with hip pain become less active. Daily walks might get shorter or could get eliminated completely. You might find that you start avoiding any activity that keeps you on your feet longer or that requires walking for long distances. Doing fewer activities involving the legs will lead to weaker muscles, and weaker muscles provide less support for joints already diseased with arthritis, resulting in even more pain. Additionally, this reduced activity is likely to lead to weight gain. As we know, being overweight is one of the contributing factors to developing osteoarthritis in the first place. Hence, a vicious cycle can ensue. Furthermore, obesity is a leading cause of many chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease. So, the physical problems associated with the kind of chronic pain that untreated hip arthritis can cause, often results in a decline in your overall health. In contrast, by removing the damaged hip joint and replacing it in surgery, your orthopedic surgeon can give you back the active lifestyle that you can use to keep yourself healthy and strong.
The Tasks of Everyday Life
Think of everything you do in a day that involves moving your hips. You get up in the morning and take a shower. If you drop the soap on the floor, you’ll bend down to pick it up. Next you might get dressed, bending over to put on your shoes and maybe tie them. If you’re going to eat breakfast, a walk to the kitchen would be followed by moving around while you are cooking. After breakfast, you could take a quick trip to the grocery store by slipping into the front seat of your car, and then rising from the seated position when you arrive. Next you’ll walk down the aisles to shop. Upon returning home, you might walk to the mailbox. Many people often also enjoy some physical activity during the day, like taking a walk or playing golf. The list could go on and on, but the point is that the most efficient way of accomplishing the everyday tasks of life involve moving your hips. If you suffer from osteoarthritis, you’re already well aware that these simple tasks can be demanding if you experience pain every time you bend over or take a step. Eventually, if nothing is done to control the pain of advanced hip arthritis, it becomes harder and harder to care for yourself. Making the decision to have hip replacement surgery can add years of independence to your life.
The chronic pain associated with hip arthritis can take a major toll on your mental health. Research shows that just experiencing pain regularly leads to anxiety and depression. Depression is also known to make the perception of pain seem even worse. However, one of the best means of improving mental health is physical activity, which is off the table if the activity causes more pain. Pain can also steal your ability to do the things you’ve always loved to do. For instance, if you’ve been an avid golfer your entire life, giving up your weekly round because of pain most likely will lead to even more depression. And so again, another vicious cycle is maintained with pain worsening your mental health and depression or anxiety feeding your pain. However, this cycle can also be broken if you choose to undergo hip replacement surgery. Freedom from pain and the ability to live an active lifestyle will do a great deal to support your emotional wellbeing.
Dr. Brett Gilbert and our friendly team are here to help you improve all aspects of your health. If you are interested in learning more about hip replacement surgery, or if you have any other concerns about hip pain or other joint pain, we’re just a phone call away. To seek the expert advice of Dr. Brett Gilbert in Raleigh, Durham, Cary or Apex, who will address your unique concerns, contact us today by calling us at (919) 788-8797 or request an appointment online, and work to start living pain-free once again.