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Hip replacement myths

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Myths about hip replacements

Many of the myths surrounding hip replacements stem from outdated information. So, don’t let these common misconceptions stop you from seeking advice from a specialist.

To arrange a consultation with consultant orthopaedic surgeon Mr Nirav Shah, contact our friendly team or ask your GP for a referral.

You’re too young for a hip replacement

Most people associate hip replacements with patients in their 70s or 80s, but they can benefit all ages. Hip replacements are more common later in life, but there are circumstances where we recommend them to patients in their 30s and 40s.

In the past, hip replacements were a short-term solution, so they were usually suggested later in life to avoid the need for more surgery 10–20 years in the future. Now, thanks to advancements in prostheses, surgical techniques and rehabilitation, hip replacements are lasting longer and providing patients with all the advantages of a natural joint.

The majority of young patients are suitable for an uncemented prosthesis, which integrates with the bone. This technique can be used alongside a lifelong bearing-surface to avoid revision surgery altogether.

Following a comprehensive assessment, Mr Shah will provide you with all your options, including more conservative treatments such as cortisone injections, medication and physiotherapy.

Sometimes, non-surgical treatments offer a limited improvement compared to surgery, which can eliminate pain and stiffness. You may need revision surgery in the future, but in the meantime, you’ll enjoy a pain-free, active lifestyle for many years.

You’re too old for a hip replacement

Osteoarthritis is the most common reason for a hip replacement. It’s a degenerative joint disease, so it tends to worsen with age. Some people don’t experience debilitating symptoms until they reach their 80s or 90s.

At this point, some patients worry that they’re too old for a hip replacement and don’t seek help from their GP or an orthopaedic surgeon. They might be deterred by the prospect of major surgery, or wrongly believe that hip pain is part and parcel of getting older.

Whatever your age, you shouldn’t accept hip pain as the norm. Many patients in their 80s and 90s safely undergo hip surgery with Mr Shah and enjoy a better quality of life as a result.

Age alone shouldn’t exclude anyone from surgery. Mr Shah will consider a wide range of factors during your assessment, including your general health and pre-existing medical conditions. He’ll take all the necessary precautions to ensure your safety during your operation and post-operative care.

If you’re not suitable for a hip replacement, there are other options we can discuss to help you manage your symptoms.

Surgery should be delayed for as long as possible

Most patients want to schedule their operation as soon as possible when they find out they need a hip replacement. However, a small percentage worry about the impact of surgery and contemplate delaying their hip replacement for as long as they can.

Delaying your operation could reduce the risk of revision surgery in the future. However, you’ll be delaying the benefits of surgery too, and your condition could deteriorate in the meantime.

During your consultation, Mr Shah will discuss the prospect of revision surgery with you and its implications. Modern hip replacements are lasting longer than ever before, so the likelihood of revision surgery could be very low.

There are some instances where it can be beneficial to postpone your surgery, for example, if you are undergoing treatment for another medical condition. Mr Shah will discuss your options with you and help you to decide the optimal timing of your operation.

You will be given as much time and information as you need to consider your options and make an informed decision.

Your new hip won’t feel or function normally

It’s hard to believe that a metal or ceramic prosthesis could feel or function like a normal hip joint, but most patients can’t tell the difference.

Straight after your surgery, you may experience some swelling and discomfort around your wound, but your hip pain will be dramatically improved.

Nowadays, hip implants come in a wide range of designs and sizes, so your hip replacement can be tailored to your age and lifestyle. Eventually, your new hip will feel and behave just like your own.

You might think that a hip replacement will limit your lifestyle, but the opposite is true. Our patients enjoy a wide range of activities, including cycling, running and yoga.

“Following surgery, I was desperate to get back to the sports that I had enjoyed previously and threw myself into physio – which I must say was not easy. The reward – skiing in December that year and completing the Brighton Half Marathon the following February.”

Mrs Des Moulins

Hip replacements dislocate easily

Some patients are concerned about the risk of dislocating their hip following a replacement.

For younger patients, Mr Shah recommends a big ball ceramic prosthesis to prevent dislocation. Over the last 12+ years, fewer than 0.5% of our young patients have experienced a dislocation with this prosthesis.

For patients in their 80s or 90s, Mr Shah uses a dual mobility bearing surface to prevent dislocation regardless of your muscle strength or activity levels. In 12 years, there have been no incidences of dislocation among our patients with this prosthesis.

It takes months to recover from hip surgery

The patients who commit to their physiotherapy and follow our aftercare advice usually achieve the best outcome. It will take months for you to make a full recovery, but you’ll start to see and feel an improvement much sooner.

On the day of your surgery, we’ll help you to take your first steps. 90% of patients return home within two days of their hip replacement. If you’re suitable for our enhanced recovery programme, you’ll be able to go home within 24 hours.

One week after your surgery, you’ll be walking with the help of a stick. Within 4–6 weeks, you’ll be able to walk longer distances without support. By week six, you can return to work and enjoy sports like cycling, swimming and golf. 8–10 weeks after your surgery, you can start running, gently increasing your speed and distance over time.

You’ll make a full recovery within 3–6 months, but you’ll need to wait 9 months before taking part in high-impact sports. Eventually, your hip replacement will allow you to do everything you could before – and more.

To arrange an assessment with Mr Shah, you can request an NHS referral from your GP or contact us directly to arrange a private consultation.

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