Getting a hip replacement is a major decision. How bad is your pain? If you opt for the surgery, you could be staring down a long and potentially difficult recovery.
First, there’s the matter of preparing your body for the surgery (which may include losing some weight), then preparing your house for use upon your return. There may not be much discussion with your doctor of your pre-surgery mindset, though getting your thoughts and emotions in check before laying down for a major procedure is an important factor.
Then there's a lengthy surgery itself, several days in the hospital, pain after the surgery and a potentially sizable scar. You’ll have several few days of inpatient rehab and will have to learn to walk with your new joint. Then there's the six months of outpatient rehab to build the muscles around your new joint. And this says nothing of the cost of the entire operation.
So, is it all worth it?
It is said that joint replacement surgeries dramatically improve quality of life. If you're in pain to the point where a joint replacement – particularly a hip replacement – is being considered, it is likely that your body is screaming out at you. It may be difficult to walk, and it may take several pain relievers just to get out of bed in the morning.
There is also new research that would support getting a total hip replacement. In a study presented at the 2013 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, total hip replacement surgery is associated with reduced mortality, heart failure, depression and diabetes rates in Medicare patients.
While the short-term benefits have previously been documented and the quality of life issues discussed, this study identified 43,000 patients with osteoarthritis of the hip between 1998 and 2009. Among those who received total hip replacement, all-cause mortality risk was reduced by 52 percent over those who did not have hip replacement surgery. Seven years after surgery, heart failure rates were significantly lower among those who opted for the surgery than those who did not have the surgery. Hip replacement patients also had a reduced risk of diabetes at one and three years after the surgery, and surgery patients had a reduced rate of depression three years after the procedure.
The study also found that getting a total hip replacement may be a cost effective solution. Despite the high cost of the surgery itself, treating a patient for seven years after a total hip replacement was only $6,366 more than the seven-year cost of treating someone with osteoarthritis of the hip who did not undergo surgery.
When considering all of the options on the table and whether or not a hip replacement is a good decision, keep in mind the benefits that the operation could have on your overall health, not just your hip.
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. (March 26, 2013). "Heart Failure, Depression And Diabetes Risk Reduced By Hip Replacement." Medical News Today. Retrieved from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/258143.php.