Hip replacements used to be considered as an operation most suited for the elderly, but this is no longer the case. The average age for patients undergoing hip replacements is getting younger, as more and more people are recognising that they are experiencing joint troubles and are able to proactively do something about it. The same is true for diagnosis of problems such as hip and knee arthritis. Over time, medical professionals are changing their mindset about who is most suitable for this type of operation, and if they are faced with a relatively young patient, who has perhaps engaged in a history of contact sports and is demonstrating the symptoms of hip or knee arthritis, they are quick to start exploring the best ways to diagnose and treat the problem.
Recognising the symptoms is half the battle, and some of the things you may expect to be feeling are as follows:
Stiffness and restricted mobility
We’ve all seen people stand up and groan, or struggle to make a smooth transition from sitting to standing/walking, and although many may regard this to be part of the natural ageing process, it could be an indicator that there is something else affecting your mobility. If you have noticed that bending down to pick things up or put your shoes on it getting more difficult, and you experience pain and discomfort when rising from a seated position, you could be suffering from arthritis in key joints.
Persistent pain in and around the hip joint
Hip pain is usually felt in the groin thigh and often the knee as well. Pain is a big give away but depending on the severity of the pain (and how adept you are at ignoring the pain) it can go overlooked. The longer it does, the more damage you are potentially causing to a weakening joint. Sometimes this pain can be such that it keeps you awake at night, so if this sounds familiar, don’t put on a brave face as this won’t help it in the long run. Make sure you get it checked out, especially if you’re experiencing any of the other symptoms too.
A grating feeling within the joint
This grating may put your teeth on edge, but it should also make you sit up and pay attention to the problem – the catching sensation is actually the cartilage within your joint breaking down and causing the ends of your bones to grate against one another with no protection.
Trouble balancing on one leg
A simple test to perform at home is checking whether or not you are able to stand on one leg for more than one minute. Test both legs in turn, and if you find that you need the help of another person, a table, chair, or other stability aid to stand for one minute on one or both of your legs, you may have a damaged hip joint.
The natural starting point with any discomfort, ache or pain is to first try and address the problem with non-surgical approaches, including physiotherapy, exercises, painkillers etc. If you feel you have exhausted everything and nothing seems to make an improvement to how you feel and how much mobility you have in your joints, it is probably time to speak to a hip replacement expert to discuss what the surgical options are.