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Your hip is an essential joint. It directly impacts your mobility, and it can be painful and upsetting if you fall and damage your hip, or if your hip is impacted by arthritis or other degenerative joint disorders.
Deciding to get your hip replaced or repaired is a big decision, but there are a few common signs that can help you determine if surgery is needed and the right choice for you, says Dr. Amy Wasterlain, a Middlesex Health orthopedic surgeon.
Groin pain, which can sometimes travel down the thigh into the knee, is one sign. You might also need to consider hip surgery if you are in pain when doing basic activities, such as going up and down stairs, getting in and out of a car or putting on your shoes and socks. Another sign is stiffness in your hip and pain when participating in rotational activities, such as playing golf.
Dr. Wasterlain, one of several orthopedic surgeons at Middlesex Health, uses an anterior approach when replacing hips, which means she accesses the hip joint by entering through the front of the body. This minimally invasive surgery requires a small incision on the front of the hip. Using this approach, Dr. Wasterlain does not cut any muscles like she would during traditional hip replacement surgery. The muscles are moved to the side rather than detached.
“Hip replacement can be a fantastic surgery because it restores your quality of life with a relatively easy recovery compared to other types of surgery,” Dr. Wasterlain says.
While most total hip replacement patients experience great results regardless of the approach used, Dr. Wasterlain says she finds that her patients recover faster and experience less pain when she uses an anterior approach rather than a more traditional approach.
“My patients are getting up and walking the same day,” she says. “They typically go home the same day, or the next day, and they usually don’t need pain medicine for more than a week or two after surgery.”
Advice and more information
Dr. Wasterlain’s best advice for those who are experiencing hip pain and considering surgery is simple, but often overlooked when in a crisis. Get to know your surgeon well, and be comfortable asking them any questions, she says.
Dr. Wasterlain also recommends that anyone who gets a hip or knee replacement see an orthopedic surgeon every year or two to get an X-ray. This helps to ensure that everything is still in the right place and functioning properly. If you start to have pain in a joint that has been replaced, it is especially important to visit your surgeon, she says, explaining that occasionally patients may need revision surgery.
There are many reasons why a patient may need a revision surgery. For example, materials used in surgeries 20 or 30 years ago do not last as long as the materials used today. Regardless, if revision surgery is needed, be sure to see a surgeon, such as Dr. Wasterlain, who specializes in these surgeries.
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