Parts Wear Out- What you need to know about hip replacement surgery?
The body has been compared to a machine with moving parts. And, just like a machine, the parts wear out over time. What do we do when that happens?
Our joints, knees, elbows, and hips, move a lot over a lifetime. Depending on our lifestyle, they can take a lot of abuse. In the best-case scenario, they last a lifetime and work as they were intended. But life is rarely “best-case” and stuff can happen. Joints can prematurely wear out or be damaged due to injury or disease.
When we first feel pain in the hip(s) There are preventative things we can do. (See the list below.) When pain becomes severe and chronic, or our ability to function is significantly compromised, it’s probably time to take action. What are the options?
Surgeries like total hip replacement (THR) can be highly effective and restore nearly 100% functionality. Success rates are high and rehabilitation fairly uncomplicated and straightforward. Typically patients can return to normal activity within three to six t0 months. Recovery is usually full after 12 months. Modern replacement appliances will last 15, 20, even 30 years.
What causes damage to hip joints?
The hip is a ball and socket joint. At the top of the femur (the large leg bone) is a ball (Femoral head) that fits into a socket in the hip bone (the Acetabulum). In healthy hips, there is cartilage between the ball and the socket that allows them to move together with little friction.
Injury or disease can cause the cartilage to thin or disappear altogether. When the Femoral head comes in direct contact with the hip socket, friction is increased and the result is bone on bone contact. The bones grinding together causes pain and reduced range of motion. The most common disease affecting the hip joint is arthritis.
Age and total hip replacement
Historically total hip replacement surgery has been prescribed for older adults, 75+. Surgeries for people in that age group have increased by 92%. At the same time total hip replacement for people ages, 40 to 60 has increased by 205%. And doctors report that people in the 20-30 age group are receiving this surgery more often too. It’s estimated that over 300,000 total hip replacement surgeries are performed each year.
Is there a preferred approach to total hip replacement?
There are two methods of total hip replacement surgery. First is the posterior approach. Here the surgeon makes an incision on the back of the hip joint. A newer approach to total hip replacement surgery is called the anterior approach. Here the surgeon will access the hip joint from the side. This approach requires less cutting of muscle tissue. Recovery time is reduced and rehabilitation is easier. Not all surgeons are certified to perform the anterior approach and you may need to do some searching to find a qualified surgeon.
Can I avoid total hip replacement?
Most doctors will advise patients go as long as possible before having total hip replacement surgery. Normally doctors will prescribe some less invasive therapies that can help preserve hip function and reduce pain before recommending surgery. Depending on the extent of hip damage, surgery may be avoided or a least postponed. Here are some “before surgery” therapies:
• Massage. A sports massage can be helpful in treating painful hips due to a sports injury. A massage can increase blood flow, relax muscles and reduce body tension.
• Physical therapy. Many patients find that physical therapy can prolong hip function before the need for surgery. Muscles in the legs and around the hips are exercised and stretched.
• Injections. Cortisone injections into the hip joint can reduce or even eliminate pain. These must be carefully administered to avoid damage to surrounding nerves. Injections can be effective for weeks or months.
• Medications. Anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), naproxen (Aleve) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be effective in controlling pain.
• Lifestyle. Rest, avoiding lifting, losing weight, and applications of cold packs can reduce inflammation.
• Alternative treatments. Stem cell injections have been used to treat hip pain. Practitioners of this form of treatment claim that stem cell therapy can regenerate damaged tissues.
Fortunately for we human machines, one of the parts that can be replaced is our hips.