Question: My doctor tells me I need a hip replacement, but I’d like to avoid this surgery if at all possible. Do you think I could be OK over the long term without it?
Dr. Hibberd’s answer:
Hip replacements are recommended when your hips no longer are functioning properly.
Perhaps your worn-out hip has started to cause you loss of mobility or is destroyed from severe arthritic changes? It’s also possible a fracture or damage your hip now has restricted your motion, placing you at risk for venous blood clots, or you can no longer get around without a walker or a wheelchair.
The real question for most patients relates to whether they are healthy enough to undergo the stress of this surgery and post-operative rehabilitation. Replacing a hip is useless if you remain bed-bound or unable to walk after the surgery.
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We usually advise delaying surgery until patients are comfortable with the risks, and are ready for a rigorous three- to six-week period of intensive post-operative physical therapy. I also assume you will not be limited in your mobility by knee-joint problems or severe underlying medical conditions that need to be improved before major surgery.
Most hip replacements are expected to last 10 years and in some cases up to 20 years. If your hips give you painful mobility problems, the decision to undergo replacement is usually a good one. But be sure you understand that there is pain to this gain, and while success rates are very high, the surgery is not always risk free.
Discuss options with your personal physician and your orthopedic surgeon that will correspond to your mobility needs and expected life with your new hip.
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