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Do I need a new hip?

Diagnosing Arthritis

We commonly experience aches and pains in our muscles and joints, but when symptoms persist for more than a few days it is important to consult your doctor soon. In most cases, the sooner a treatment begins the more effective it will be.

Arthritis in the hip can be difficult to diagnose at first because the pain may be difficult to pinpoint and it may be felt in the backside, groin, thigh or even knee, but there are some usual recognisable symptoms. Common symptoms include a stiff hip joint after a period of inactivity, pain, swelling or tenderness in the hip, difficulty in flexing the hip enough to put on your socks for example, or a sound or feeling of grinding or crunching when you move your hip

You should seek advice from a healthcare professional if:

  • you experience aches and pains in your joint(s) that are not related to an injury and do not ease after a few days, or aches and pains in your joint(s) that persist long after an injury;
  • if a joint becomes swollen and stiff especially if not related to an injury;
  • if you are unable to perform daily tasks because of aches and pains in your muscles or joints.

Before diagnosing arthritis, your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and how they developed. They will examine you, and may arrange for tests to be done such as request a blood test or x-rays. Hip arthritis is usually confirmed when an x-ray shows characteristic features of a reduced gap between the hip ball and socket and bony growths around the joint.

When Surgery is Recommended

Many people do not require surgery for many years if at all and not everyone who has hip arthritis needs a hip replacement. For many people the symptoms of arthritis subside or remain sufficiently mild with infrequent flare-ups for periods or many years without severely impacting on quality of life. Many people do not experience arthritis until late in life or can reduce symptoms or slow the disease sufficiently that further treatment options are not required. However hip replacement surgery is an option when alternative treatments have been exhausted.

Hip replacement surgery is likely to be offered to you if:

  • you have severe pain, swelling and stiffness in your hip joint and you have reduced mobility,
  • pain has reduced your quality of life and affects your sleep,
  • everyday tasks have become difficult or impossible,
  • you feel depressed because of your pain and lack of mobility,
  • your hip means you are unable to work or have a normal social life.

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