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Pain after hip replacement

 

Michael Latteier, MD is an orthopedic surgeon at Banner Baywood Medical Center in Mesa.

Question: I had my hip replaced a several years ago, and recently it has become more painful. What is causing this pain? Will I need more surgery?

Answer: Although joint-replacement surgery has been remarkably successful in this country, there is a small percentage of patients who develop pain or problems in a joint.

Pain in a hip or knee after a joint replacement can come from inflammation or injury in the soft tissue around the joint, or from failure of the joint components themselves.

Many patients referred to me for a painful total joint replacement can be treated conservatively. They commonly have inflammation called bursitis or tendonitis. Also, muscle weakness around the joint can lead to fatigue and even sprains and strains, which can cause pain. Typically, such conditions can be treated successfully with anti-inflammatories, rest, exercises, physical therapy, and sometimes injections.

In other cases, the pain comes from problems related to the joint implant. Approximately 10 percent of implants will "fail" and require a second procedure, called revision, to remove the old implants and replace them with new components. There are several reasons for failure of joint implants, including wear and loosening and instability that occurs when the soft-tissue structures around the joint are unable to provide stability necessary for activity.

If you are having persistent pain in a joint that has been replaced, the first step is to visit an orthopedic surgeon to figure out what is causing the pain. The decision to have joint-revision surgery is based on many factors, but generally should be considered when pain, swelling, stiffness or instability of a failed joint replacement becomes too great. Depending on the diagnosis, revision can involve as little as replacing out a worn plastic liner to reconstruction of large bone defects.

Page Last Modified: 11/11/2011
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