Guest article: Facts to consider before hip replacement surgery

by | Sep 15, 2013 | Aging gracefully, Health Effects of the Environment and Medical System, Joint Health | 0 comments

Xray of artificial hip

Thanks to Julian Hills for today’s guest article on hip replacement surgery.

Facts To Consider Before Having Hip Replacement Surgery

How does someone know they need hip replacement surgery?

The pain a person has may be the main indicator of hip damage. Having a properly functioning hip is essential to completing normal activities.

Hip implants are intended to ease pain and restore mobility. People who experience symptoms such as stiffness and excruciating pain so bad that it severely limits their ability to walk and complete their daily routines are often prime candidates for hip replacement surgery.

Xray of artificial hip

Artificial hip joint

Common Hip Replacement Considerations

Even though they are very successful and common, hip replacement surgeries (like all surgeries) do have risks. Here are some things anyone thinking about getting a hip replacement may want to consider:

Trying Other Treatments: There are other ways to treat hip deterioration besides replacement surgery. Most medical experts suggest that you may want to exhaust other options before opting for a replacement. Exercise, medication or walking aids like canes and walkers may help you avoid or put off surgery.

Types of Surgery and Implants: Hip implants replace the ball and socket of the hip joint. Even though they are considered to be permanent, it’s possible that you could receive more than one in your lifetime. That depends on your age, how bad your condition is, and the type of implant your orthopaedic surgeon chooses. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there are five types of hip replacement implants:

  • Metal on Plastic (Polyethylene)
  • Ceramic on Plastic
  • Metal on Metal
  • Ceramic on Metal
  • Ceramic on Ceramic

Dangers: Risks associated with hip replacements are the same risks associated with many other surgeries, including: reactions to anesthesia, heart attack, infections, blood clots or excessive bleeding.

Risks unique to hip replacements include: hip dislocation, bone fractures, infections at the joints, nerve damage, or malfunctioning devices.

People who experience swelling, pain, a change in their walk or grinding noises more than three months after surgery may want to consult their health care provider.

Metal-On-Metal Controversies Make Headlines

There is controversy surrounding metal-on-metal hip replacements. Despite the inherent risks of all implants, the FDA points out specific concerns with these specific ones.

Some of the metal components of the implants can cause severe damage to the surrounding bone and tissues. Also, the two metal parts grind together, releasing debris into the blood stream, which can be toxic.

Two major hip manufacturers recalled their metal hip implants over these issues. The Stryker Corporation and Johnson & Johnson’s Depuy Orthopaedics unit recalled their metal hips in recent years, and have faced legal troubles since.

DePuy, in fact, is the subject of more than 10,000 lawsuits and is reportedly considering a settlement that could cost the company more than $3 billion.

Obviously, patients should discuss these topics and other concerns they may have with their doctor. Knowing the benefits and risks of hip replacement surgery will help patients understand how it could affect the quality of their lives in the future.

Julian Hills is a content writer and blogger for Drugwatch. His journalism career has taken him from newspapers to local television news stations and even a 24-hour cable network in the Southeast. Julian is a graduate of Florida State University.


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