Will my range of movement still be limited after hip surgery?
Q) I'm 70 years old and have had osteoarthritis in my left hip for more than 10 years. I had an appointment with my orthopaedic surgeon about having a new hip joint and he told me that painkillers would be required after surgery and, as I was only able to climb stairs one at a time, this would be unlikely to be different in the future. My present restricted mobility would also be reduced further and I'd still limp and need a stick. Having previously spoken to people who'd had their hips replaced, I was led to believe that these problems would no longer exist. Could you please give me your opinion?
Jim McIntosh, Kirriemuir, Angus (Spring 2008)
A) It may sound odd but some surgeons do err on the cautious side when counselling patients about the results of surgery. They do this, I suppose, to avoid disappointment if it doesn’t turn out as well as expected (and this does occasionally happen). If all goes well and you've lost much of your pain and increased your mobility after the operation, you can then be pleasantly surprised. The surgeon may spell out all the other risks of any surgery, such as the possibility of death and long-term infection in the new joint. Such things are very rare but do occasionally occur after a joint replacement. It's on this basis that you sign the consent form before the operation so you have to be aware of all the risks. However, the huge number of joints replaced annually in the UK is testament to the successful outcome of the majority of these operations.