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Non-Surgical Alternatives to Hip Surgery

Before deciding on hip surgery, your physician may try several non-surgical, conservative measures to relieve the pain and inflammation in your hip.

Lifestyle Modification

The first alternative to hip replacement involves such lifestyle modification measures as weight loss, avoiding activities involving long periods of standing or walking, and the use of a cane to decrease the stress on the painful hip.

Exercise and Physical Therapy

Exercise and physical therapy may be prescribed to improve the strength and flexibility of your hip and other lower extremity muscles. Your exercise program may include riding a stationary bike, light weight training and flexibility exercises. An aquatic therapy program is especially effective for the treatment of arthritis since it allows mild resistance while removing weight bearing stresses. For an appropriate exercise program, contact an experienced physical therapist.

Anti-inflammatory Medications

Arthritis pain is primarily caused by inflammation in the hip joint. Reducing the inflammation of the tissue in the hip can provide temporary relief from pain and may delay hip replacement surgery.

Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) may be prescribed to decrease the inflammation associated with arthritis. A new classification of NSAIDs called Cox-2 inhibitors are often very effective in decreasing pain and have fewer side effects.

In a small number of cases, the doctor may prescribe corticosteroids, such as prednisone or cortisone, if NSAIDs are not effective. However, due to the higher rate of side effects associated with corticosteriods, a physician must closely monitor their use.

Glucosamine/Chondroitin

Two dietary supplements, Glucosamine and Chondroitin (commonly available in a combined tablet), may decrease the symptoms of hip arthritis. Glucosamine and Chondroitin sulfate are both naturally occurring molecules, and issues associated with both remain under active research. However, it appears that may people taking these nutrition supplements on a regular basis note a decrease in their arthritis symptoms.

There exist a number of non-surgical alternatives to total hip replacement surgery. Such measures as lifestyle modification, exercise and physical therapy, and medication should be implemented before deciding on surgery. If all of these measures have been exhausted and your orthopedist recommends surgical intervention, total hip replacement surgery can be very successful in decreasing pain and greatly improving function.

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