If you are living with hip pain, you may be wondering if surgery is an option for you. Sunnybrook Orthopaedic Surgeon Dr. Bheeshma Ravi says it’s a balancing act between not opting for surgery too early, but also not waiting too long if your symptoms are advanced. At the latest Speaker Series event – When is Knee & Hip Surgery Necessary – he provided some guidance on making the right decision.
Arthritis is a very common condition, affecting about 1 in 10 Canadians. Your lifetime risk of developing this condition is about 45%, with a higher general risk in women. Arthritis affects weight-bearing joints, including hips, knees, ankles, wrists and shoulders and tends to get worse over time, and. As pain can limit movement, people with arthritis also have a higher risk of heart disease and obesity-related complications.
Dr. Ravi says there are many treatment options to consider, including activity modification, weight loss, physiotherapy, injections and arthroscopy. And while it’s important to consider non-operative options, he says don’t do them at nauseam; if you find an approach isn’t working, it may be time to consider another one. He says to also be careful about managing pain. Studies have cited high rates of opioid use among arthritis patients, which can increase the risk for long-term dependence.
So when is hip surgery, which replaces the joint, on the table? Dr. Ravi acknowledges that it’s a very personal decision. From a medical perspective, he says it comes down to pain and function. Generally, surgery is best done when your pain is limiting, but not disabling and when your function is limited, but you are still capable of improvement.
How well does joint replacement affect pain? Dr. Ravi says there have been many studies on hip replacements, and many patients report pain relief within just a few weeks of surgery. In the right patients, joint replacement surgery can also help improve overall function, including the ability to play light sports, climb stairs and walk comfortably. While surgery can help many people, Dr. Ravi says there are limitations. For example, if you wait until you are in a wheelchair, you’ll likely always need a cane. The damage of arthritis also affects muscles and overall function, so it won’t take you from zero mobility to full mobility. That’s why it’s important to consider surgery at the right time, something your healthcare team can help you determine.
Did You Know?
The Holland Bone and Joint Program offers a helpful assessment program that helps stream patients towards the right treatment option before getting to surgery.
Watch the whole Speaker Series event below: