Hip Replacements and their Alternative and Complementary Solutions
Arthritis and other chronic joint problems in the hip are the cause of severe pain, inflammation and varying degrees of disability in a significant number of people. Many with these issues will undergo hip replacement surgery to relieve their pain and discomfort and restore mobility.
However, headlines about recent recalls and complications associated with some hip replacement devices have raised awareness of the potential risks involved with surgical treatments, spurring many hip pain sufferers to look to alternative solutions for relief.
A conservative management of chronic hip pain can significantly reduce symptoms, allowing hip replacement surgery to be delayed, or sometimes avoided. Typically, such a plan includes the use of anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy and lifestyle modifications to reduce symptoms and increase mobility.
Physical therapy generally focuses on targeted exercise to strengthen muscles that support the hip joint, which can reduce pain and increase range of motion for improved hip function. In overweight patients, weight loss is an important part of treatment. Being too heavy places a great deal of excess stress on weight-bearing joints and is a major risk factor for the development of osteoarthritis in the hip.
Complementary and Alternative Medicine
According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, which is a division of the National Institutes of Health, acupuncture has been shown in clinical trials to reduce osteoarthritis pain and inflammation and increase mobility, as have glucosamine and chondroitin supplements. Glucosamine and chondroitin are compounds that are naturally present in healthy cartilage. Massage has benefited many patients with hip pain, and there is some evidence that vitamins C,D, E and beta carotene may slow the progression of osteoarthritis.
Hip replacement surgery can be a good option for people with severe hip arthritis symptoms that have not responded to non-surgical treatments. However, it is major surgery and there are risks, so being well-informed about these procedures and knowing the hip implant options available is important.
Metal-on-metal hip replacement products have caused some problems for patients in recent years, with some of these products recalled due to high rates of premature failure and complications, and many hip recall lawsuitsfiled by injured patients.
Metallosis is one serious complication associated with these implants, and occurs when friction between implant components produces microscopic particles of metallic debris. These particles collect in the soft tissues surrounding the hip, causing pain and inflammation. Metal ions from implant debris have also been shown to enter the bloodstream, a situation for which the long-term effects are not known.
Osteolysis is another condition related to implant debris. It occurs as the body's immune system reacts to the foreign particles, causing bone loss around the implant site that can result in loosening or failure of the implant.
There are options besides metal-on-metal hipimplants, such as ceramic and metal or ceramic and plastic systems, among others. Be sure to discuss the benefits and risks of all hip replacement options with your doctor to determine which type of hip implant will be safest and most effective for you.
Elizabeth Carrollton writes about defective medical devices and dangerous drugs for Drugwatch.com.