When you really think about it, our bodies are one big balancing act. The torso balances on the hips. The hip and upper legs balance on the knees. And all of those body parts balance on the ankles and feet. It’s no wonder we sometimes face so many aches and pains!
The hips are just one component of that balancing act, but they do a lot of work to keep us upright. In order to provide structure for our bodies, the hips must be very stable. If there’s pain or weakness in the hips, stability goes out the window. We become more prone to falls and stumbles. Activity levels also dip significantly because it’s too painful to run, hike, bike, or even walk sometimes.
Once you reach the point where you can no longer take more over-the-counter pain medicine, or you just can’t tough it out for one more day, it’s time to call an orthopedist to investigate the problem. Mid-Tennessee Bone and Joint has two physicians who focus on hip pain and joint replacement – Dr. Freddie Wade and Dr. Cason Shirley. Our physicians routinely use proprietary treatment plans and pain relief methods that are key in treating a variety of problems.
With hip pain, there are typically a vast number of issues that could be causing it including back problems, bursitis, or arthritis. X-ray is the first step to determining exactly what is happening in your body and can give us a good idea of how to start treatment. These images can show bone spurs, cartilage tears, stress fractures, or even the onset of arthritis. These issues are treatable or manageable.
One great way to cope with hip pain is exercise. With your physician’s guidance, a daily exercise plan can strengthen muscles in the hip and increase flexibility. Depending on your diagnosis, your doctor may prescribe physical therapy as a first step to alleviating this pain. A physical therapist can get you started on a few exercises that can later be replicated at home.
Another treatment for hip pain is to receive an injection of corticosteroids. This procedure administers medicine to the affected joint to relieve pain. Each patient will have a different course of treatment, but it is expected that pain will diminish within four weeks of treatment.
If over-the-counter pain relievers, exercise, and injections don’t help, it may be time to look into surgery. This type of joint replacement allows the doctor to surgically remove the painful hip joint and replaces it with another prosthetic joint made of plastic or metal. There are multiple surgical approaches to hip replacement, and your doctor will help you decide which is best for you.
Post-surgery, patients have a variety of restrictions based on how well they did during surgery and the type of procedure that was done. For the first few weeks after surgery, you will need assistance with basic tasks. For most patients, they will be discharged home to continue recovery. In some special cases, you will be discharged to a skilled nursing facility to complete the first few weeks of rehab.
For most patients, you can expect to return to normal activities between 8-12 weeks after surgery. Before your surgery, talk to your doctor about any concerns or expectations you have, and discuss how the procedure will take place. This surgery is very commonplace, but every surgery carries a risk. By taking care to protect your new hip, you will have many years of use and be able to resume most of the activities you enjoy.
Read more about how we treat hips!