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A New Hip Joint
You may need a hip replacement operation (sometimes called a total hip replacement, or THR) if your hip joint is badly damaged by arthritis. This sort of damage is mostly caused by osteoarthritis but it can also be due to other types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis. An alternative type of surgery is hip resurfacing, which retains more of the original bone.
Hip replacement or resurfacing surgery is not needed by everyone with arthritis of the hip joint – it is only recommended when the pain and disability are having really serious effects on your daily activities. Your doctors will always try other measures before they consider surgery (e.g. painkilling tablets, a walking stick, physiotherapy). There are also less major types of surgery which will be considered, such as ‘cleaning out’. If the pain and disability justify surgery, there is no age limit – either young or old. However, the younger the patient the greater is the likelihood of repeat revision surgery being needed at some time in the future.
It is necessary to consider the risks and benefits before deciding to proceed with surgery. The benefits are obvious – hip replacement abolishes pain, improves mobility and restores quality of life. The risks are less obvious, and it is to assist you in making an informed decision that the complications – which occur infrequently – are addressed at some length in this booklet. You should discuss these risks, and any other questions you may have, with your surgeon before you decide to go ahead, but remember hip replacement surgery is generally very successful, and brings great long-term benefits to most people.
What can I expect from hip surgery?
Pain should no longer be a problem – that is the major benefit of surgery. You will usually notice the benefit almost immediately after the operation, although you will of course have pain from the surgery to start with. You should have greater mobility and a better quality of life, but it is important to remember that an artificial hip is not as good as a natural hip. It does have some limitations, which are summarized in this booklet.
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