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7 Effective Alternatives to Hip Replacement

By Last updated on January 30th, 2023January 30th, 2023No Comments

Hip injuries or even common hip pain can make your life difficult. You can’t properly walk, sit, or lie down. Unfortunately, the elderly with hip arthritis usually suffer more intense hip pain, leading to replacement surgery. However, not every hip pain means you need hip replacement surgery

A complete or partial hip replacement is not the only treatment for a hip injury. Instead, it must be the last option. Before that, you have enough time to avoid surgery and go through some alternatives to hip replacements, including orthobiologic therapies or injections to reduce hip pain.

Remember that hip replacement surgery has risks, including post-surgery hip pain, blood clotting, and infection. So it’s better first to try the alternatives and then opt for a hip replacement if nothing works. Here are 7 effective alternatives to hip replacement:

1. Hip Conditioning Program

Similar to physical therapy, a hip conditioning program is a rehabilitation from a hip injury. It aims to treat or reduce hip pain from its root. All types of hip conditioning programs are performed under a doctor’s or physician’s supervision.

The doctor usually recommends a hip conditioning program after the treatment or injury to boost healing. You can quickly return to the normal routine if you regularly follow the program.

It focuses on enhancing the strength and flexibility of the following muscles:

  • Gluteus maximus/medius (buttocks)
  • Abductors (inner/outer thigh)
  • Hamstrings (thigh’s back)
  • Piriformis (buttocks)
  • Tensor fascia latae (outer thigh)

Below are some common exercises included in the hip conditioning program:

Seated Rotation Stretch

This exercise focuses on your piriformis and the buttock’s side and reduces hip pain. You don’t need any equipment to perform this exercise. However, it’s better to begin the seated rotation stretch with your physician if it’s your first time.

Here’s how to perform the seated rotation stretch:

  • Unroll the gym or yoga mat on the floor to smoothen the surface.
  • Sit on the mat and straighten your legs.
  • Lift your left leg and cross it over the right leg.
  • Place your right arm on the left thigh to extend your rotation.
  • Move your neck over the left shoulder and pause the stretch for 20-30 seconds.
  • Ensure your hip bones are on the mat throughout the stretch.
  • Change the leg, the arm, and the neck’s direction.
  • Repeat the exercise 3-4 times.

Hip Extension

The hip extension exercise targets your gluteus maximus and reduces the hip pain radiating down to your leg due to unknown reasons. That might be slightly painful initially, but after a few repetitions, you will not feel any pain.

Follow these steps to perform hip extension:

  • Lie on a flat, smooth surface on your abdomen.
  • Place a pillow under your abdomen. The pillow must align with your hips.
  • Bend a knee straight while keeping your body relaxed.
  • Elevate the leg with the bent knee and lower it down.
  • Repeat it 5 times and switch to the other leg.

2. Physical Therapy

Physical therapies are similar to the hip conditioning program. The only difference is physical therapy is simpler, and you don’t need any supervision while performing the exercises. The below two exercises are the best alternatives to hip replacement:

Hamstring Stretch

A hamstring is a group that includes your thigh, hip, leg, and knee. It helps you extend your hip by bending your knee. During hip pain, you can’t walk or sit properly because the pain prevents you from moving your hamstring. You will also feel tightness in the hamstring during a hip injury.

To perform it, follow the below steps:

  • Lie straight on your back.
  • Keep your knees straight.
  • Bend your right leg and place its foot to your left leg’s mid portion, i.e., thigh or knee.
  • Use your hands to reach your left foot, which is straight. You will feel the stretch in your left hamstring.
  • Pause the stretch for 50-60 seconds and repeat the exercise thrice for both legs.

Straight Leg Raises

This exercise contracts the muscles of your thigh’s front and stretches the hip muscle. Here’s how to perform straight leg raises:

  • Lie on a yoga mat and keep your body straight.
  • Bend one knee by placing the foot next to the other knee.
  • Lift your straight leg by forcing your thigh’s front muscle and abdomen.
  • Keep your leg in the air about 12 inches for 2-4 seconds.
  • Slowly lower your leg and repeat the exercise 15 times for each leg.

3. Walking Aids

Since hip pain makes walking difficult, physicians recommend using a walking aid to divide your body weight and walk easily. A walking aid is the simplest equipment patients use suffering from a hip injury. It includes the following:

  • Cane
  • Crutch
  • Walkers

Patients might feel it difficult to balance the walking aids at the beginning, but they will get used to them. Your doctor will guide you on how long you will have to use the walking aid after the treatment to recover from the hip injury fully.

4. Medications

Hip pain is sometimes unbearable, making you restless whenever you move. Some patients complain about chronic hip pain and can’t get much help using walking aids. So, the doctors will prescribe Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce the pain.

These medications are made to treat specific health conditions, like:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Bursitis
  • Gout

Your doctor will examine your condition and might write you some tests to understand your injury more before prescribing the dosage. Remember that NSAIDs reduce the inflammation in the injured area but taking more of them than suggested might lead to severe health risks.

5. Corticosteroid Injections

Corticosteroid, or simply steroid, works faster than painkillers and temporarily reduces the pain. Your doctor will check your medical history before injecting corticosteroids as it might give a quick reaction, like a change in blood sugar or tendon rupture.

This alternative to hip replacement can delay the surgery by months or years, depending on the patient’s condition. So, you can enjoy your regular activities in a few hours after getting administered the corticosteroid injection.

6. Activity Adjustment

Although hip pain makes your life difficult, it doesn’t make you fully immobilized. For example, you might feel pain in your hips while walking normally. But when you change your walking posture, your hip pain is reduced.

Similarly, your doctor will examine your hip injury and might ask you to walk and sit to evaluate your activities. Since your normal posture gives you pain and worsens the injury, your doctor will adjust your activity by suggesting you change your posture. That will reduce the pain and boost the healing process.

7. Orthobiologic Methods

Orthobiologic treatments target the body’s own cells to heal the injury. It’s an advanced regenerative medicine technique that replaces damaged tissues with healthier ones without surgery.

You can go for the two most common orthobiologic methods at CELLAXYS as alternatives to hip replacement surgery: cell-based therapies and platelet-rich plasma therapy (PRP). Both of these treatments are outpatient procedures, meaning you can go home right after the treatment. Also, they are less painful and non-invasive and even have a shorter recovery time than traditional treatments. 

Our experienced doctors will first diagnose the cause of your hip pain and then perform any of the two types of orthobiologic treatments:

Cell-based Therapies

The first alternative, also known as stem cell therapy, uses stem cells to replace the affected tissues. They are collected from the patient’s blood, fat, or bone marrow and processed before injecting into the injured area.

The stem cells boost the healing process and repair the damaged area of the hip. Your doctor might go for the following two cell-based therapies:

  • Minimally Manipulated Adipose Tissue Transplant (MMAT) – In MMAT, the doctor will extract stem cells from the patient’s adipose (fat) and process them. Once the stem cells are active, the doctor will inject them into the damaged area. The whole process is injection-based and minimally invasive.
  • Bone Marrow Aspirate Concentrate (BMAC) – This procedure is done by collecting bone marrow aspirate from large and healthy bones and injecting it into the injured hip. The healthier bone marrow will repair the damaged hip and promote healing.

Both therapies are done in around 2 hours, and you can go home a few hours after the treatment.

Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy (PRP)

Platelets are defensive cells in our bodies that prevent bleeding whenever there’s an injury. In PRP, the doctor will take your blood sample and send it to the laboratory to separate platelets. After that, the platelets will be processed and made ready to heal the injured hip. 

Once the platelets are ready, the doctor will inject them into the patient’s injured area. Platelets play vital functions in our bodies. For example, they promote new tissue development by releasing 10 Growth Factors and attracting healing elements. They also attract healing cells from the blood to promote early recovery. Lastly, they also create fibrin which is a web-like structure to grow new cells and tissues.

PRP is performed within 45 minutes. The more platelets a patient has, the quicker recovery they get. That’s why PRP is an alternative to hip replacement, chosen by athletes to treat their spine, orthopedic, and sports-related injuries for over two decades.

Dr. Matthew HC Otten

Director of Regenerative Orthopedic and Sports Medicine
Fellowship-trained & Board Certified in Sports medicine
Director Angiography at Harvard Clinical Research Institute
Michigan State University Alumni


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