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What surgical interventions are available for a 32-year-old with osteoarthritis?

Q) I have advanced osteoarthritis in my hip. I've been prescribed diazepam, dihydrocodeine and omeprazole for my stomach, having suffered from stomach bleeding from NSAIDs. Both these are addictive and habit-forming, and of course I'd prefer to do without them. Could you tell me what surgical interventions are available for a 32-year-old with advanced osteoarthritis, and, if possible, whether I'd be a candidate for a metal-on-metal resurfacing procedure? I'm getting to the point now where I want to avoid taking painkillers and other harmful products.
David, Inverness (Spring 2008

A) At 32 years you're young to have advanced osteoarthritis of the hip. The treatment you're recommended will depend on the state of your other joints. Either you have a generalised arthritic condition which began when you were younger, or this is the only joint which bothers you. If this is a single joint, surgeons may be reluctant to perform joint replacement surgery for fear of you wearing it out in a short time and needing a replacement of the replacement. However, a simple resurfacing operation may be performed, with good results, and if that wears out it's easier to move on to full joint replacement. I'd certainly advise you to consider this option but much depends on you, your circumstances and your general health.

This answer was provided by Dr Philip Helliwell for the Spring 2008 edition of our magazine, Arthritis Today, and was correct at the time of publication.

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