Am I a Candidate for Joint Replacement Surgery?

Arthritis and severe hip injury may lead to extreme pain or even inability to walk. Some doctors may recommend total hip replacement surgery for patients with severe hip problems. Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and traumatic arthritis are three common causes of hip pain and immobility. If you have a family history of osteoarthritis and you're developing mobility restrictions due to hip pain, you could be a candidate for hip replacement surgery.

Candidates for Hip Replacement Surgery

Candidates for hip replacement surgery aren't easily recognized by age, class or activity level. Many patients are between the ages of 60 and 80, but hip replacement surgery isn't confined to the elderly. The successful candidate for total hip replacement surgery often has pain that limits or completely alleviates everyday activities such as standing or walking. Hip pain often keeps them awake at night, potentially causing more health problems. Stiffness in the hip may limit movement such as sitting or even lying down. Candidates for hip replacement often find very little or no relief from anti-inflammatory medications and gait aids such as a cane or walker do not ease the pain.

Surgical and Nonsurgical Treatment

The best nonsurgical treatment for hip joint problems is an anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen. Glucosamine, a nutritional supplement, may also provide relief from hip joint pain caused by arthritis or serious injury. Physical therapy may provide temporary relief from some hip pain including stiffness and weakness. A cane or walker may improve mobility slightly and help for a time. If you've tried all recommended nonsurgical treatments, surgery could be your next step.

Pain and immobility are serious issues and need to be addressed; sometimes surgery is the only way to really fix the problem. Arthroscopy is an outpatient procedure in which pieces of cartilage or loose fragments of bone are removed. It is minimally invasive and often brings relief within a day or two. If arthritis is caught early, osteotomy may be an option. Osteotomy involves realigning the bone and joint of the hip and maybe the femur to decrease pressure on the hip joint. This procedure could delay the need for total hip replacement surgery by about 10 years.

What to Expect

While total hip replacement will likely make it much easier to move and walk, it may not solve all of your problems. You need to be aware of what to expect after your surgery. The reduction of pain and improvement of mobility are major issues that are generally always addressed with hip replacement. While total hip replacement will make daily activities easier, it will not give you super powers to do things you couldn't do before your hip problems appeared.

After surgery you will be warned about certain activities. Jogging and jumping should be avoided for the rest of your life. The high impact can damage the artificial hip and cause more problems in the long run. In addition to avoiding high impact exercises, you should avoid certain positions that could lead to dislocation of the joint. Normal wear and tear will happen over the coming years, undue stress on the artificial joint should be avoided. Because the joint is prosthetic doesn’t mean it won't still cause pain if it becomes damaged.