Is it really possible to have both hips replaced at the same time?
Playing tennis, badminton, golf, taking rambling walks and dancing well into retirement is now considered normal and many people talk of "sixty being the new forty". But for those suffering from hip arthritis, pain may get in the way.
The Gloucestershire Hip Clinic (GHC) provides patients with a bespoke service to allow you to get back to enjoying life.
Symptoms of hip arthritis
Arthritis affects around 8.5 million people and is caused by joint damage resulting in inflammation and pain. There are many different types of arthritis, osteoarthritis being the most common.
Hip arthritis is a waxing waning condition with variation day to day and week to week. Pain typically occurs in the groin and buttock, spreading down to the knee. Initially, pain and stiffness may only be occuring following activity. As arthritis progresses, the pain may limit your walking distance or even be felt when resting. Pain that wakes you at night and interferes with your quality of life is a good indicator of more severe disease.
If the arthritis damage (osteoarthritis) in your hip is bad enough, it can give you a sense of being unsteady, especially on uneven surfaces, or when you turn quickly. You may lose confidence in your hip causing your leg to give way unexpectedly.
While nobody wants to have an operation, when day- to-day activities become increasingly challenging then surgery may become an acceptable option.
Options: Non-surgical treatments
Sometimes explanation and lifestyle modification is all people need to be able to cope with their pain. Using things like over-the-counter painkillers, weight loss and walking sticks are a good first step. An often talked about ‘cortisone’ (steroid) injection may help to relieve the pain for a time. However, repeated injections often get less and less effective.
Options: Total hip replacement (THR)
Following exhaustion of non-surgical treatment options your surgeon will discuss patient-centred options. Frequently there will be a hip that is more painful than the other side, and your surgeon will discuss surgical options. Occasionally both hips are equally arthritic and painful. In such cases a bespoke surgical plan can be discussed replacing both hips at the same surgical sitting.
The most commonly performed surgical procedure for hip arthritis is a Total Hip Replacement (THR) with over 100,000 hip replacements being performed in the UK every year. Hip replacement surgery is a fantastic procedure which relieves pain and stiffness and restores quality of life to thousands of patients every year. 97% of patients report an improvement in health following a total hip replacement.
Over the years hip replacement has evolved into a very safe procedure with reliable and reproducible results. Although hip replacements are commonly performed it is still major surgery. The initial period of pain following the operation diminishes after the first few days. Swelling then decreases and walking resumes with a more normal gait as the leg is better balanced and less stiff. By six weeks, patients are making progress with rehabilitation, walking normally, and increasing the distance every day.
Who is suitable?
In order to be suitable for a hip replacement, you will need some specialist x-rays. You will also need to be examined by a surgeon from the GHC to confirm the pain is coming from your hip joint. Occasionally further imaging with an ultrasound scan or MRI can help evaluate pain from muscles and tissues or pain coming from the spine.
The operation uses an anaesthetic combined with a state-of-the-art nerve numbing procedure. This provides adequate pain relief and allows the patient to be drinking a cup of tea and eating shortly after the procedure.
The surgery itself uses ultra-modern implants, dissolvable sutures and skin superglue with flexible dressings that do not hinder movement or recovery.
Surgery scheduled for the morning allows the patient to be back on the ward in time for lunch and commence rehabilitation. Within a few hours after the operation patients can stand with full weight bearing and walk on their hip.
Having both hips replaced at the same surgical sitting will take longer to recover from immediately after surgery, although helpfully avoids the need for a subsequent operation and recovery period.
Your GHC surgeon will tailor the surgery to your needs and discuss the merits of replacing both hips simultaneously.
When ready to go home following a total hip replacement patients will have a bespoke rehabilitation package of physiotherapy. More information can be found on the GHC website: www.gloucestershirehipclinic.com.