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6 Signs You Need a Hip Replacement

March 28, 2024

If you’re dreading the idea of a hip replacement, we’ve got some good news for you.

Hip pain doesn’t necessarily mean you need surgery. And if you do need surgery, it can help you get back to the life you love.

We asked John Keggi, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Orthopaedics New England and an attending orthopedic surgeon at the Connecticut Orthopaedic Institute at MidState Medical Center, for details.

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6 signs you need a hip replacement

The answer to whether you need a hip replacement, says Dr. Keggi, starts with this checklist.

  1. You have groin pain. (This is often the top sign of hip arthritis).
  2. It’s hard getting in and out of the car.
  3. It’s challenging to put on your shoes and socks.
  4. Sleep is getting tough, and finding a comfy position is difficult.
  5. You’re experiencing challenges with intimacy.
  6. You feel like you’re missing out on things you love.

If that last one hits home, you’re like many patients.

“If you have difficulty exercising, golfing, chasing the grandkids or participating in your daily life, talk to your doctor,” says Dr. Keggi.

> Related: 5 Ways to Avoid a Hip Replacement

Is your hip just sore, or is it something more?

Are you stiff from your spring cleaning yesterday? Or maybe you’re a little slow after an ambitious hike?

“It’s pretty common to have episodes of hip pain related to a sudden change in activity,” explains Dr. Keggi. “You’ll likely feel this overuse or the aftermath of being a weekend warrior.”

As you age, it’s normal to have some hip pain (especially on the side of the hip) if you ramp up activity quickly. These short episodes of hip pain are annoying but usually come and go.

“This is different from groin pain that becomes persistent, frequent, and constant,” explains Dr. Keggi. “When hip pain starts to limit your quality of life, let’s explore treatment options.”

Can I make modifications to put off hip replacement surgery?

While there are some ways to avoid hip replacement surgery, your symptoms will be the guide.

“The real judge of this is to look at your lifestyle,” explains Dr. Keggi. “If your adjusted lifestyle feels OK to you despite your hip pain, it may work to continue with these nonoperative methods.”

While there’s no real danger in not having surgery, he calls out some bold fine print.

“If you’ve reached the point that you can’t sleep, you’re missing out on special events, or your family is telling you that you’ve been really grumpy with your hip pain, it’s time to think about surgery.”

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Book your consult early for the best outcome

Chatting with your doctor sooner rather than later about your hip pain is the way to go.

They can first help you identify where the pain is coming from. It may have a few possible origins, including:

  • Arthritis
  • Hernia
  • Gynecologic causes
  • Other orthopedic conditions

This appointment can help you ward off hip pain progression. If your function is declining (i.e., using a cane, relying on a walker, needing a wheelchair), it’s harder to recover this function, especially as you age.

“An early conversation doesn’t mean the horse is out of the barn when we see you, but we can certainly give folks a lot of good advice on the early side,” says Dr. Keggi. “It doesn’t mean you necessarily need surgery, but this information-gathering process is the best way to put your mind at ease about what comes next.”

A hip replacement lets you live without restrictions

You don’t want to sit on the sidelines of your life.

Hip replacement surgery has come a long way. The materials can last about 30 years, surgery takes about 40 minutes, and pain relief comes quickly.

“People tell us they wish they had done this sooner,” Dr. Keggi says. “They also thank us for helping them get their lives back. If you’re unsure about surgery, just come in, and we’ll answer your questions. We want you to live your life fully.”