Surgery is often considered a last resort treatment, right?
If you can manage a condition with medication, or struggle through the pain, or make some significant lifestyle changes, you might cope with a health problem without having to go under the knife.
That’s true of certain health issues, but a significantly damaged hip joint isn’t one of them.
When it comes to arthritis of the hip, waiting too long can make things worse in the long run. Here are our orthopaedic surgeons’ top reasons NOT to wait to get your hip replacement surgery.
- It will stop the pain. Arthritis of the hip joint can cause pain not only in the hip, but in the knee, groin, lower back and buttocks. Often patients who have arthritis of the hip suffer deep groin pain. The nerves that feed the knee also run past the hip and can be affected by inflammation in that area. Conservative treatments, such as medication, only treat symptoms and don’t correct the problem (which is the damaged joint). Over time, the problem will only get worse, so if your pain is significantly affecting your quality of life, there’s no reason to continue to subject yourself to it. Get the hip replacement.
- It will improve your quality of life. It’s one thing to make small adjustments to your lifestyle to accommodate an arthritic hip (such as taking shorter walks or using a cane), but when your pain, stiffness and inflammation begin affecting your ability to do daily activities, it’s time to talk to your doctor about hip surgery. People who can no longer take short walks, get dressed, or put on their shoes without debilitating pain can suffer not only physically, but psychologically as well. According to the National Pain Foundation, 30% of people in chronic pain experience depression. Not every condition that causes chronic pain can be cured with surgery, but this is one that can be.
- Your new hip joint will last, we promise. Some people think they need to wait to get a hip replacement because they are too young and their hip joint will wear out and need to be replaced down the road. Today’s prosthetics are sturdy and long-lasting, meaning that younger people (even very active ones) can benefit from the surgery. You may not be able to do everything you used to do, such as high-impact sports, but your new hip won’t limit you nearly as much as you might think.
- If you wait too long, the surgery will be less effective. As your joint continues to deteriorate and your mobility becomes less and less, your health will worsen as well (think weight gain, poor cardiovascular health, etc.) Patients who go into surgery healthier tend to have better outcomes. Also, severely deteriorated joints can make the surgery more difficult to perform, require additional physical therapy afterwards, and even limit the maximum flexibility that the new joint can achieve. More and more we are seeing that there is an optimal time to have hip replacement surgery if you want to get the most benefit.