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Hip replacement surgery can bring an end to chronic pain

August 28, 2018

Do you experience pain in the groin or hip areas when doing basic tasks like getting dressed? Does it disturb your sleep, keep you from walking, exercising, or doing what you normally do? Have you had this kind of pain for six weeks or longer? If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, it might be time to speak to a physician about possible hip replacement options.

“When people have pain in the knees or shoulder, it’s easier to identify, because people can point to a knee and say where it hurts,” said Michael Welker, MD, director of orthopedics for Kettering Physician Network. “It’s harder with the hip, because the pain radiates down from the groin and tends to worsen when you move around.”

The first step is to identify the exact origin of the pain. The orthopedist will obtain a history and perform a physical exam, then based on that information, will order the appropriate imaging. Once those results are complete, both surgical and non-surgical options can be explored to determine the best course of treatment for your situation.

Once the problem is identified, the doctor becomes more of a medical concierge to help you decide what the best options are for you. If joint replacement is appropriate, the process begins with a joint education class. A team of specialists including a nurse liaison, nurses, occupational and physical therapists, anesthesia representative, hospitalist, and social worker will all work with you to develop your individualized care plan. There may also be a pain specialist involved, if needed. You will receive a book or DVD to help you understand the process.

If the decision is made to move forward with a surgical procedure, you will have a follow-up appointment with the doctor within a month to have all of your questions and concerns addressed. The doctor will also assess your individual medical needs to determine how long your hospital stay might be. While most hip replacement patients go home within a day, others may need an extra day or two.

The actual surgical procedures vary based on the patient’s particular situation. Some surgeons prefer to use an anterior approach–from the front side–because it is less invasive and helps reduce rehabilitation time.

After the surgery

One of the primary deterrents to people seeking a hip replacement is what they’ve heard about pain and rehabilitation. However, managing pain and getting people back to daily activity are important concerns for our physicians.

Pain control begins before the surgery, even ahead of the anesthesia. “Low doses of different pain medications are administered, rather than a large dose of one,” Dr. Welker explained. “A simple sedation and a spinal anesthetic are often used to help decrease the risk of blood clots, reduce post-operative infection, and improve pain control.”

After hip replacement, you will follow up with the doctor between 10 and 14 days. Many people are on a walker for less than a week, and a cane may be used for about a month. The average time to return to driving is within a month, and most patients are off of all medications at that time.

Resuming normal routine activity can happen in a relatively short time. Most people can return to a desk job within a few weeks and labor jobs within six weeks, depending on the individual and the type of work required. Everyone’s situation is different, so the doctor will help you evaluate yours.

“Kettering Health Network has done more joint replacements than anyone in the area. We have orthopedic surgeons who perform 150 to 200 hip replacements every year,” Dr. Welker said. “Patients experience a level of care that is simply better.”

If you’re experiencing the kind of pain Dr. Welker described, it may be time to talk to a Kettering Health Network orthopedist. Click here to request an appointment, or you can call 1-844-228-MOVE (6683).