As you get older, hip pain is almost inevitable – it’s incredibly common, but it isn’t pain that you have to live with for the rest of your life. Thanks to advances in technology, hip replacement surgery is now easier, safer, and more cost effective than ever before.
And the number of Americans getting hip replacements is rapidly increasing. In recent years, hip replacements have become common in younger individuals, and hundreds of thousands of people undergo this surgery each year according to WebMD¹
The reason so many people are choosing to have hip replacement surgery is, according to orthopedic surgeon Dr. Mark Pagnano², how dramatically it can improve patients’ quality of life. If you’re considering a hip replacement, here’s how you can make the decision if it’s right for you.
When Is the Right Time to Consider Hip Replacement?
Not everyone needs hip replacement surgery. But if you’ve been living in pain, looking for a solution that could make your life easier, a hip replacement could be the answer.
Hip pain makes everyday life challenging. It makes it hard to walk, to get up and move around, and to go about your daily chores. If you’re struggling with the following symptoms or problems, you should consider hip replacement:
- Difficulty walking.
- Difficulty standing up or sitting down.
- Difficulty bending over.
- Difficulty climbing stairs.
- Difficulty walking distances, such as around the grocery store.
- Pain in your hip even when you aren’t moving, such as when you’re sleeping.
You should be dealing with these issues daily if you think you might be a hip replacement candidate.
Of course, before you decide that a hip replacement will solve your problems and pain, it’s important to rule out other options. Depending on your age, your health, and the source of your pain, you may be able to find relief with other remedies.
Make sure to speak with your doctor about the pain you’re living with, and see what he or she recommends. Your doctor will likely suggest that you try the following options, WebMD³ reports, before turning to hip replacement surgery:
- Pain medications, either over-the-counter or prescription.
- Anti-inflammatory medications or injections.
- Physical therapy and exercise.
- Weight loss.
Once you try out these treatment options and rule out any other possible conditions, you can plan and prepare for hip replacement. Issues like arthritis, decades of wear and tear on your body, and even injuries that cause damage can all lead you to need a hip replacement.
What You Need to Know Before Surgery
If hip replacement is the right choice for you, your next step is to get ready for the surgery. Today’s hip replacement methods make the entire process easier, smoother, and less painful – and you can begin feeling better faster.
Of course, like any surgery, there are big changes and important factors to consider. Here are the important details you need to know before your surgery takes place.
Hip Replacement Surgery Does Have Risks
Like any other surgery, hip replacement does come with a few risks. When you decide to have this surgery, you’re at risk for the following potential complications, according to WebMD⁴:
- Anesthesia-related problems.
- Blood clots.
- Heart attack.
- Hip dislocation.
- Bleeding, internal or external.
- Nerve injuries.
Make sure to talk with your doctor about these risks, as well as any other risks you might be facing. Your overall health does play a role in your risk level for hip replacement surgery.
Healing and Recovery Can Take 6 to 12 Months
Like any other surgery, there’s a recovery period once you get your hip replaced. You’ll need to take it easy while your body heals. And it can take six months or up to a year to fully recover, according to WebMD⁵.
As you recover, you’ll experience pain and need assistance. You won’t be able to drive for a while, and you’ll need to rely on a cane or other helpful device to walk. You will also need to learn how to walk again with the help of regular physical therapy. During that therapy, you’ll perform exercises to move your new hip and strengthen yourself while you heal.
Once you do fully recover, you’ll likely be free from any pain.
Hip Replacements Don’t Last Forever
While a hip replacement will give you increased comfort, reduce your pain, and help you live life more fully, it isn’t a permanent solution. It’s a fantastic solution that lasts between 10 and 20 years, WebMD⁶ explains.
If you’re young, this means you may need a second hip replacement later on in life. You might also need revision or follow-up procedures if your hip begins causing you problems again.
If you’re an older adult, however, 10 to 20 years could be perfect for you. A hip replacement later in life could give you significant pain relief and a new hip that you can rely on for the rest of your life.
Where to Find Hip Replacement Options
If you’ve decided a hip replacement is the best choice for you, there’s just one step left. You’ll want to search for a hip replacement that works for your needs.
There are multiple hip replacement products and options, and your doctor – or an experienced orthopedic surgeon – can explain them to you. You want to replace your painful hip with one that will be long lasting, beneficial, and suitable for your health. Make sure to do your research online so you can learn about the different choices, read reviews, and determine if your insurance will cover specific hip replacements.
Here’s something else to remember: just because a hip replacement option is cleared by the FDA doesn’t mean it’s proven to be safe. This is why it’s so important to do your research and check with different surgeons before you decide on a hip replacement product.