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10 Best Hip Surgery Alternatives To Consider

Arthritis, a leading cause of hip pain and immobility, has increased the number of hip replacement surgeries held every year. The condition is so painful and affects the daily lifestyle of the patients that surgery often seems like the only option to get life back on track. However, that’s not the only option a patient should consider. 

There are several noninvasive and nonoperative hip surgery alternatives that you can look into before going in with the surgery. Fortunately, most of these procedures have successfully alleviated the pain and enabled the patient to walk on their own two feet without difficulty. Moreover, the recovery time is much shorter and doesn’t involve the pain the complete hip replacement surgery follows.

Here are the top 10 hip surgery alternatives you should consider and discuss with your doctor before you agree to get under the knife.

1. Conservative Therapies

According to research, conservative therapies have effectively delayed the need for total hip surgery. Therefore, patients with osteoarthritis can usually easily qualify for the conservative therapy requirements.  

The therapies involve client education, physiotherapy exercises, and a year-long follow-up. The period for the whole process is as follows:

Now, most individuals who go through the whole process experience a significant decrease in pain and an improvement in the joint’s functioning.

2. Corticosteroid Injections

Corticosteroid injections are another effective hip surgery alternative for patients with joint inflammation. These injections have two key elements:

  • Corticosteroids
  • Hyaluronic acid

These effectively help reduce the inflammation in the affected joints, reducing pain and stiffness. 

The corticosteroid injections work fast, are very effective in relieving pain and inflammation of the hip, and can provide relief for months and even years. 

Alongside these injections, the specialist may suggest a few changes to the patient’s lifestyle. For example, hip joint exercises, weight loss, not staying in the same position for too long, etc.

However, many doctors and medical experts advise against the use of such injections. While these injections may be very effective for some patients, they sometimes worsen the condition.

3. Cartilage Transplant

Another hip surgery alternative that is slightly invasive is the cartilage transplant.

The doctor can recommend the patient undergo the treatment, depending on the condition and extent of the damage. In this process, a specialist team grows the cartilage and then replaces the damaged part of the cartilage tissue with it.

This method also triggers the bone to produce more cartilage naturally by itself. However, it is only in the experimental stages right now. Therefore, patients with diagnosed osteoarthritis may not benefit from it.

4. Partial Replacement

The doctors may advise a partial replacement procedure in cases where a small area of cartilage is damaged.

However, it is still a surgery, so all the complications that come with the surgery will come part and parcel with it.

5. Arthroscopy

Arthroscopy is a highly recommended and effective treatment for hip joint pain. The procedure is minimally invasive and a suitable treatment plan for those with soft tissue and cartilage damage.

It involves very few minor incisions – hence minimally invasive –  made to the tissue and bone so the surgeon can access the hip joint. 

They will remove debris around the ball and socket using specialized surgical instruments and close the incision. The process allows the surgeon to see the extent of the damage inside the joint to diagnose better and treat the issue. 

However, recovery after the procedure will be slow. The patients may have to rely on crutches, canes, or walkers to move around for several weeks.

6. Hip Resurfacing

In hip resurfacing surgery, like the total hip joint replacement, an implant requires the damaged bone to be replaced. However, it is much smaller, and the procedure is less invasive than complete hip surgery.

It also preserves the normal bone, unlike the complete ball joint replacement. Therefore, the technique initially gained much popularity, especially among younger patients. But later, since it’s a metal-on-metal replacement, it raised many concerns. 

7. Exercises

Stretching exercises for strengthening the muscles is another hip surgery alternative. These exercises keep the muscles and tissues surrounding the joint healthy enough to support the hips. 

Doctors may recommend exercises like cycling, swimming, and walking to keep your muscles healthy. These are low-impact exercises, so they don’t affect the hip joint negatively.

Alternative or complementary therapies like acupuncture, using the heat pack or cold pack, and the TENS technique are also effective in regaining control of your hip and reducing pain. 

8. Pain Killer Medications

The doctor may prescribe pain relief medications to reduce joint stiffness and pain. These are often given for short durations for pain relief. Common medicines include:

  • NSAIDs
  • Capsaicin creams/gels
  • Paracetamol

These and other over-the-counter medicines can provide temporary relief and should only be taken for a short duration. On the other hand, self-medication and taking these prescription drugs for extended periods will only cause damage to the other vital organs.

9. Mobility Aids

Many mobility aids and devices can help the patient get around with ease. These include walking aids, shock-absorbing insoles, etc. These take the pressure off the hip and help you place the weight on the aid rather than the joint itself.

Hence they serve as effective hip surgery alternatives making it easier (and less painful) for patients to get around their daily lives. 

10. Orthobiological Methods

Regenerative treatment plans are actively taking over the medical world. People today opt for more noninvasive, painless treatments compared to traditional surgeries. These are common joint injuries due to falls and conditions like arthritis.

At CELLAXYS, patients can get treated via two treatment plans for different hip joint ailments: cell-based therapies and platelet-rich plasma therapy (PRP). First, the experienced medical professionals go through the patient background, diagnostic history, and the ball and socket joint condition. Thereby they devise this minimally invasive treatment plan for each patient. 

The recovery timelines for both procedures are short; hence they are effective hip surgery alternatives. The treatment plan is devised depending on each patient’s condition. Generally, the doctor may perform either of the two cell-based therapies.

The early the intervention, the more chances the patient can avoid hip replacement in the long term. Usually, the degenerative process begins from one side socket of the hip. While it may affect the ball, both sides rarely get damaged simultaneously. So there’s a chance to save the asymptomatic side if the diagnosis is made in time.

Cell-based Therapies

Cell-based therapy, more commonly known as ‘stem cell therapy,’ is an effective technique to heal the damaged site and joint. In the process, the patient’s healthy cells are harvested and injected into the affected area. 

Cell-based therapies improves the functioning of the ball joint and reduces pain. Hence it reduces the need for hip replacement in the future years, something that’s very helpful for young patients.

  • Minimally Manipulated Adipose Tissue Transplant (MMAT). MMAT is a transplant where the patient’s fat tissue is processed and injected back into the hip. The cells can also be injected into other affected areas or joints simultaneously. So while it’s minimally invasive, it’s also a comprehensive approach to help affected arthritic joints all over the body.
  • Bone Marrow Concentrate (BMAC). BMAC is another effective method for extracting bone marrow concentrate from the body and reinjecting it to the affected site. This process helps heal the joint and cartilage repair naturally. So, people who suffer from hip joint pain due to arthritic wear and tear often benefit from the procedure.

Research has shown that these have great potential to help the body parts regrow and repair. Hence they have been proven effective in repairing damaged tissue and bone.

Both of these procedures take between 1.5 to 2 hours and involve a lot of X-rays and ultrasounds so the doctor can correctly place the tissue and bone marrow. You must stay at the facility for a few hours but will be able to go home on the same day.

Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy (PRP)

In PRP therapy, the patient’s blood is used as platelet-rich plasma, which acts as an anti-inflammatory agent inside the body. The therapy may be given in isolation to alleviate hip joint inflammation.

As you know, platelets are our body’s first line of defense. So the PRP procedure involves removing the blood platelets from the drawn sample, thereby processing and reinjecting them back. It is these plasma-rich platelets that help in the healing process. 

These platelets do the following three things inside the body:

  • They release 10 Growth Factors that help produce new tissue cells.
  • Then, they draw the healing cells or components from the blood.
  • Finally, these release fibrin inside the tissue to help rejuvenate the cells and tissues.

So the higher the number of plasma-rich platelets, the quicker your recovery will be. This procedure takes about 45 minutes, and patients can go home on the same day.

The results of cell-based therapies and PRP are often felt soon after the procedure. For example, patients experience an increased blood supply to the affected area. Moreover, the bones also grow new cells and rejuvenate.

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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