Hip pain is a common complaint among patients throughout the country. This pain is often more than just a nuisance and drives thousands of patients to seek treatment from physicians every year.
“Many patients visit my office when they’re experiencing pain and begin to have a limited range of motion and stiffness in the hip,” says Sam Sydney, MD, hip replacement specialist at Orthopaedic Associates of Central Maryland. “Patients lose the rotation and flexion of their hips, making everyday tasks like putting on and taking off shoes very difficult.”
Hip pain can have a number of causes. Often times it is a gradual onset from a chronic condition such as rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis. It can also come on suddenly, for instance, when a person suffers a hip injury or has a condition called avascular necrosis (AVN), which occurs when there is inadequate blood supply to the ball portion of the hip joint.
When patients present with hip pain, surgery isn’t generally the first course of treatment, however. The history, clinical exam and x-rays often tell the surgeon when surgery is indicated.
“I use surgery as a last resort,” says Dr. Sydney. “There are many first line therapies that I recommend before jumping into a hip replacement surgery.” [See sidebar article]
Surgical Options for Hip Pain
When it comes to hip replacement surgery, the two most common approaches available to patients include:
- Traditional total hip replacement surgery
- Minimally invasive total hip replacement
Minimally invasive total hip replacement surgery is a commonly recommended surgical option for most hip replacement candidates. The minimally invasive anterior approach is performed on a special table to facilitate exposure and is done without cutting any muscles in the hip. Another procedure is called cementless total hip replacement, which allows the bone to grow into the prosthesis. Because the surgeon does not have to cut through the muscle, recovery time tends to be quicker than the traditional total hip replacement method.
Traditional total hip replacements are often recommended for patients who have an arthritic hip joint. In this procedure, the surgeon does have to cut through the muscle, making the recovery time slightly longer.
Both minimally invasive and traditional hip replacement surgeries utilize tried and true prosthetic devices that have proven results for hip replacement patients. Dr. Sydney also emphasizes the importance of choosing an orthopaedic surgeon who does a high volume of hip replacements to ensure successful outcomes.
Hip resurfacing was a commonly used treatment, but in recent years, has fallen out of favor with orthopaedic surgeons. When a patient’s hip is resurfaced, the damaged hip ball is reshaped and capped with a metal prosthesis. This procedure is more difficult and the risks of complications are higher. Additionally, the metal ball on metal socket may cause pain, an immune system reaction, and in rare cases, tissue deterioration.
Recovery from Hip Replacement Surgery
Recovery from a total hip replacement has dramatically improved over the years. With technology lending itself to minimally invasive techniques as well as improved pain management, and better patient preparation preoperatively (pre-hab), patients are resuming normal activities quicker.
Immediately following a hip replacement, patients are advised to get up and on their feet. This is integral to the recovery process. Most patients will feel muscle straining and soreness from the surgical site and will need assistance from a walker or crutches for two to three weeks. Depending on what kind of shape the patient was in prior to surgery, it is recommended that they resume normal, non-strenuous activities right away. Physical therapy is also recommended to facilitate the healing process and to strengthen muscles.
Is Hip Pain Prevention Possible?
Most hip problems stem from some type of arthritis, which tends to be genetic, but there are ways that patients can try to keep hip problems at bay.
“I recommend to all my patients that maintaining an active lifestyle and keeping an ideal body weight is the best way to avoid future hip problems,” says Dr. Sydney.
For more information on hip pain and hip replacement surgery, visit www.mdbonedocs.com or call 866-927-1338 to make an appointment with a specialist at Orthopaedic Associates of Central Maryland.