Do I need a hip replacement?

Do I need a hip replacement?

What makes people decide to have a hip replacement? Is it mainly persistent pain, or are there other factors to consider? We asked an experienced hip surgeon at Circle to answer common questions patients ask, and at what point most people decide to have a hip replacement.

Why do I have hip arthritis?

The source of the problem is likely to be a combination of hip shape, what activities you do, and what genetic factors there are.

Your hip shape is a key factor. If you’re very sporty it can lead to lump of bone forming on the edge of the ball part of the joint, known as a ‘cam deformity’.

Some jobs and activities are more likely to have repetitive hip flexion and twisting involved. Longer term, this can damage the hip cartilage and lead to osteoarthritis. For instance, farmers and other heavy manual workers, or certain recreational activities such as horse riding, may increase your risk.

Family history is also very important. If they’ve had arthritis, you’re three times more likely to have it yourself and you’re six times more likely for it to be symptomatic.

Professional sport can lead to attritional injuries for athletes too. However, some athletes don’t seem to be affected by these injuries, even though they have similar shape problems in their hip. It could be down to a genetic factor we don’t fully understand.

Hip fractures

If you fracture the neck of your femur (thigh bone), you may end up needing a hip replacement too. This could be due to a fall for instance, but is usually more common in older patients in their 80s. In some cases you may only need a half (partial) hip replacement, where you replace the ball.

In other cases, a full (total) hip replacement may be needed if you’re more active. Hip fractures represent a much smaller proportion of those needing hip replacements than those done electively due to osteoarthritis.

What does hip arthritis feel like?

Pain is the most common symptoms of hip osteoarthritis. It’s often intrusive, affecting you while you sit, walk or sleep during the night.

Typical hip arthritis pain will often be dull ache, much like a persistent tooth ache. You may also feel some sharper pain, which is usually linked to a mechanical issue in your hip.

This means a torn bit of cartilage is getting pulled to cause your sharp pain. Also, when a bone rubs against another bone in the hip, this can be very painful.

That said, everyone will experience this differently. It could be combination of pain and stiffness of the joint that’s bothering you. Putting on shoes and socks can become a struggle, as can bending down.

Where would I feel pain?

A common misconception is that the hip is where your belt sits, around your pelvis.

This isn’t the case.

The hip joint actually lies within the groin, making groin pain a very common location to feel discomfort. The pain can also be in the buttock, thigh or knee. You can even occasionally just have knee pain, even though it’s your hip that’s the source of the problem.

When may I need a hip replacement?

The average age for having a hip replacement in the UK is 67. That said, there’s no rule on when someone needs a hip replacement.

If pain and stiffness are stopping you doing your everyday activities, and you’ve tried other conservative measures, then hip replacement surgery may be the only thing left to relieve your symptoms and increase your mobility.

Having a hip replacement is considered to be a reliable and predictable procedure. Patients can get to the point where the only thing to get you out of pain and increase your mobility, is to have a hip replacement. Patients will usually have gone through physiotherapy, medication, weight reduction and activity modification reviews before considering surgery.

Of course, like with any surgery, there are potential risks and complications, but the expectation is that it will enable you to get back to doing the activities you love.

Hip osteoarthritis - what you need to know Hip replacement recovery - how long will it take?

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Circle Health Group, 1st Floor, 30 Cannon Street, London, EC4M 6XH