This article is part of the the Ultimate Guide to Hip Pain Relief.
Experiencing pain and immobility in the hip can cause many frustrations for your day to day life. Seeing a hip specialist to determine your next course of action can help you understand the treatment options you have.
Hip replacement surgery may be one of the top options for you if other treatment methods have failed. Before your doctor confirms that a replacement is the next course of action, they will need to determine if you’re a good candidate for hip replacement surgery.
IBJI recently chatted with Dr. T Andrew Ehmke ( link to: doctor’s page on IBJI.com ), board-certified orthopaedic surgeon with fellowship training in joint replacement. He informs us of when you should start considering hip replacement surgery and discusses what makes you a good candidate. His responses—below—have been edited and condensed for space.
Qualifications for Hip Replacement
While treating patients for hip and knee arthritis, Dr. Ehmke is commonly asked, “How do I know when it’s the right time?” and “Am I good candidate for joint replacement?” As always in medicine, the answer is, “It depends,” says Dr. Ehmke.
The doctor will take a look at these things to determine if you’re a good candidate or if the underlying issue is an entirely different problem.
Arthritis of the Hip
The first thing to consider is arthritis, as this symptom needs to be present for a replacement. “I make sure you are suffering from arthritis of the hip joint and not another condition such as tendon or muscle inflammation, or even a pinched nerve in the back. Having a joint replacement done for any reason besides a painful joint will not help you and will probably make you feel worse. I will go over X-rays or MRI scans with my patients to show them where their arthritis is and how severe it is.”
“It is also important to consider what type of symptoms the patient is having. Arthritis is an interesting disease, in that some people have it on their X-ray, but don’t experience symptoms from it. This is where getting the history of your pain, i.e. ‘Where does it hurt? What makes it worse or better?’ and examining you is extremely important.”
Review Treatment History
Another consideration to determine if you’re a good candidate for hip replacement is to look at your history with previous treatment methods.
For example, “Patients with arthritis will usually have significant relief from an injection, even if it is extremely brief. If I am considering if someone is having symptoms from their arthritis and they tell me they had an injection and didn’t get any relief at all (not even for a few hours), it will make me consider if the pain is coming from another source around the joint or the back. I have seen many patients in my office that came to me to have a joint replacement done for a hip or knee problem and it turned out they didn’t have arthritis. We treated the issue at hand, and they got better without having to undergo a major surgery.”
How much is the pain affecting your life?
If arthritis is present, causing significant pain and is clearly seen on an X-ray, the physician will consider a replacement as the next option. During this phase, they ask how the pain affecting your life.
“If patients are avoiding the things in life they love such as taking walks, exercising, playing golf or tennis, or even simple activities such as using stairs (and despite trying multiple treatments such as injections, anti-inflammatories and exercise), it is probably time for a joint replacement.”
“I never want to rush a patient into surgery before they are ready, but when we talk about timing, it is important to consider the longer you are inactive because of the arthritis, the weaker and stiffer your muscles and joints will become. This might lead to a longer recovery to get yourself back to the level you were at before.”
It is important to have a frank discussion with your surgeon about all of these things when deciding if the time is right for you. Everybody’s personal situation is different. Patient’s that lead an active lifestyle are not able to tolerate arthritis pain as much as someone who is sedentary.
We always weigh the risks of the procedure with the benefits, so it is important to go through all of your current and past medical issues to make sure you are fit for surgery. If you are someone that can continue to live their life without any limitations and control the pain with occasional injections or medicines, then surgery isn’t right for you. However, if you have tried everything and seen the quality of your life decrease by missing out on all of the activities you love to do, then a joint replacement can change your life and get you back to being you.
Get Relief from Your Hip Pain Today
Hip Care and Treatment at IBJI
Whether you are just starting out in your hip care journey or need a second opinion for your hip pain, IBJI’s hip surgeons are here to help provide you with the necessary care for your ailment. Get the relief you are seeking with the help of IBJI.
Request an appointment with an IBJI hip surgeon to discuss treatment options and create an individualized approach to your care.
Talk to a Hip Surgeon to See if You’re a Good Candidate For Hip Replacement Surgery
*The blog is for general information and educational purposes only regarding musculoskeletal conditions. The information provided does not constitute the practice of medicine or other healthcare professional services, including the giving of medical advice, and no doctor-patient relationship is formed. Readers with musculoskeletal conditions should seek the advice of their healthcare professionals without delay for any condition they have. The use of the information is at the reader’s own risk. The content is not intended to replace diagnosis, treatment or medical advice from your treating healthcare professional.
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