Do you have hip pain that is slowing you down? If you do, you’re not alone. Arthritis is one of the most common complaints people talk to their doctor about. Anyone who has ever had hip problems understands how important these joints are for living a normal life. Walking, bending, and sitting down are just a few of the activities that are affected by arthritis of the hip. But what can you do if your hips are bothering you? Have you seen a doctor about it yet? Have you tried physical therapy, weight loss, exercise or medications? If you are not getting the relief you need, it may be time to talk to an orthopedic surgeon about the advantages of hip replacement and if it would be the right treatment for you. The following are a number of signs that may indicate it is time to for you to have this conversation.
Hip Arthritis and Hip Replacement Surgery
Arthritis of the hip can be caused by a number of different problems, but the most common cause is osteoarthritis, or degenerative wear-and-tear arthritis. Over years, the surface of this “ball-and-socket” joint can change from smooth to irregular, causing pain and disruption of movement. While osteoarthritis is the most common cause, other problems such as inflammatory arthritis (rheumatoid, lupus), avascular necrosis, and injury can create hip arthritis. The result can be pain and dysfunction, greatly affecting your quality of life. However, the good news is that since the first hip replacement surgeries in the 1960’s, it has become one of the most successful of all orthopedic surgeries performed. Not everyone that has hip arthritis needs surgery, so what signs should alert you that you may need hip replacement surgery?
Anyone can experience pain in a joint from time to time. You may even notice that you have pain in the same hip periodically. It is really the quality and frequency of pain that will indicate the severity of your arthritis. Daily pain that isn’t relieved with simple measures is never normal. Neither is having significant pain every time you get up from sitting for an extended period of time, as you might in a car or while watching your favorite TV show. The same is true when you are active. If your hip pain worsens the longer you are walking, decreasing the amount of activity you would usually do, it is time to see your orthopedic surgeon.
Pain shouldn’t be keeping you awake. Not only will fatigue make your pain feel worse, it is not good for your overall health. If you can’t fall asleep because you can’t get comfortable, or you can’t stay asleep because pain wakes you up when you move, it may be time to consider hip replacement surgery.
Conservative Treatments Aren’t Helping
Unless you’ve had a significant injury or infection, changes in your hip joint happen over time. This means that there will be different stages of your arthritis the longer that you have it. However, there are many successful therapies along the way to keep you moving and pain-free. If overweight, weight loss will decrease the stress on your hips and knees. Mild over-the-counter medications are very effective with decreasing pain and inflammation of your joints, as long as you have discussed their safety with your doctor. Unfortunately, some people cannot tolerate many of these medications over the long term because of side effects such as gastritis, ulcers, kidney problems and heart problems. Physical therapy and regularly performed exercises can strengthen the muscles that support your hip and improve mobility. However, when these treatments are no longer effective in minimizing your discomfort, it may be a sign that you are ready for hip replacement surgery.
Think about the movements that your hip can do. As you walk, your hip moves as your legs swing forward and backward. If you ever played a sport, your hips allow your legs to move sideways as you shuffle. They even allow one leg to cross over to the other side of your body so you can dance. Imagine trying to sit down or stand back up, or to bend over and touch the floor if your hips weren’t allowing free movement. And remember, arthritis does not only cause pain, although that is a very significant sign. Sometimes your hip joint may just feel stuck or it may click as you try to move your legs.
If hip arthritis is causing you difficulty in making any of these normal movements, it is time to see your orthopedic surgeon.
Inability to Do the Things You Need to Do Without Help
If you are having difficulty moving, you will most likely notice it during the everyday activities of your life. You might have difficulty getting up from a chair or notice that you can’t take your usual 30-minute walk without frequent rests. Tying your shoes or picking things up from the floor may become hard or even impossible. Hip arthritis should not be ignored if it is interfering with you living your life as you should. Pain and immobility do not have to be synonymous with getting older. But letting pain or stiffness interfere with your daily activity will lead to more and more disability. If you think your hip arthritis is slowing you down, this could be a sign to see your orthopedic surgeon about hip replacement surgery.
Pain can be a very deteriorating force–physically, mentally and emotionally. People with chronic pain often also suffer from depression and/or anxiety. If either the pain you are experiencing, or the effect arthritis is having on your ability to do the things you want to do is causing you to feel hopeless, it is important to know that you have options. Fatigue, withdrawal, frequent crying, and even anger can be signs of depression. If you are experiencing these things, you should call your doctor. If pain and inactivity is creating undo emotional distress, it is surely time to discuss treatment options, including hip replacement surgery with your orthopedic surgeon.
Abnormal X-Rays and Physical Exam
Finally, the most import thing in understanding whether or not hip replacement surgery is right for you is by seeking the advice of an orthopedic surgeon who is an expert in treating diseases of bones and joints, including hip arthritis. Your surgeon will discuss your symptoms, ask you to perform movements while evaluating you and order x-rays which will show the extent of your hip arthritis. This evaluation is the best way for you to learn what the right treatment will be for your arthritis, and whether you are ready for hip replacement surgery.
If you are interested in learning more about hip arthritis and hip replacement surgery, or if you have any other concerns about your hip or other joint pain, our friendly team is here to help. To seek the expert advice of Dr. Brett Gilbert in Raleigh, Durham, Cary and 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.