Hip Replacement
Concerns about costs, complications (including equipment failures) and recovery from surgery have led hip pain sufferers to seek alternative options to hip surgery.

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, more than 300,000 total hip replacements are performed each year in the United States.

New treatment options to hip surgery such as stem cell therapy and platelet rich plasma therapy (PRP) have emerged as viable treatment alternatives to hip  surgery and doctors and patients are seeing positive results.


The hip joint has cartilage just like any joint and this shock absorber can be worn away or torn through trauma. Less cartilage can mean pain and swelling, which is usually low to mid level aching and stiffness.

The hip joint tends to lose cartilage much more quickly and have more bone problems than other joints. Arthritis suffers can attest to this, bones can be strong, but reduced cartilage is the real problem.

Hip impingement occurs when either the ball or the socket have bone spurs or bigger areas that can wear down the labrum and joint. One concern based upon recent studies, is that this problem may be over diagnosed, leading to unnecessary replacement surgery.

AVN (avascular necrosis) or osteonecrosis is a disease whereby the hip bone begins falling apart.  As cartilage deteriorates in the hip joint, the underlying bone becomes exposed. The irregular surfaces and the inflammation associated with bone moving against bone leads to pain and stiffness. The ball in socket joint becomes more like a square peg in a round hole causing pain that typically occurs in the groin or the side of the hip.

What Are the Risks Associated with Hip Replacements?

Surgery may not be the first, best option for hip pain sufferers if you consider all the variables.

There are other viable treatment options for hip replacements, but more on that in little bit.

Hip surgery is considered major surgery, with anesthesia risks, post op pain, a one to four-day hospital stay, and a long recovery time.

The hospital stay won’t be just about watching the few TV channels in your room, the doctor will expect you to be up and walking that same day, or at best, the day after.  You will be expected to walk with a cane or walker, climb two or three stairs and do some exercises that will be continued at home.

Returning home after surgery is no cakewalk either.  Is the furniture arranged so you can get around?  Simple things such as your toilet seat height become more important.

Somebody will need to be there to assist you for a week, possibly two and forget about driving for a period of time.  If the surgery was on your right hip, your driving could be restricted as long as six weeks. You should not drive if you are taking narcotic pain medicine, and there could be auto insurance implications if you aren’t cleared by your doctor to drive.

Your first follow-up appointment will happen somewhere between six and twelve weeks after surgery, and this is a time when many eager patients ask about returning to sports, sexual activity, and other physically intensive work-related movements.

With the exception of high-impact activities such as jogging, skiing, or basketball, most patients recovering from hip replacement surgery are able to resume normal activities within three to six months.

Will You Need a 2nd Surgery?

One major concern with hip  surgery is the chances of requiring follow up surgery. There have been problems with implant devices, particularly the metal on metal replacements.

Once a patient begins to have problems with a hip replacement, a more complicated revision surgery may be required.

Unfortunately, this surgery has an even higher complication rate than the original surgery.

Recalls of hip replacement implants are not uncommon.

The FDA has issued three manufacturer’s recalls listed on their site within the last 10 years.

Look at this recall of the DePuy hip system:

On Aug. 24, 2010, there was a voluntary recall of the DePuy ASR TM total hip system because of new, unpublished data from the UK joint registry indicating the revision rates within 5 years were approximately 13 percent.

13 percent revision rates with five years is very high.  We are talking major surgery, and a huge increase in risk as we detailed above.  It makes alternatives worth investigating as a better option for you.

Stem Cell Therapy

Stem cell therapy is emerging as the low risk alternative to hip surgery.

What are stem cells? 

Stem cells are the body’s own repair kit. Adult stem cells, not to be confused with embryonic stem cells, reside in adult bone marrow and adipose fat tissue, as well as other tissues and organs of the body.

When you suffer an injury, these stem cells have the natural ability to repair the damaged tissue. However, in people with degenerative diseases, these stem cells are not released quickly enough to repair the damaged tissue.

How is Stem Cell Therapy Performed?

“Stem Cell Therapy is a minimally intrusive process that can be performed in one day, or over the course of several weeks depending on the severity of your injuries

A bone marrow or adipose fat tissue samples are taken via needle, without the pain of a bone marrow biopsy or surgical procedure. The cells are then processed to secure the natural growth factors from your own blood platelets.

The injections of the stem cells can then be reintroduced into your damaged joint area, using ultrasound or MRI imaging so the cells reach their intended target and ensure proper dispersion of the cells into the tissue.  This supplementing of the body’s own mechanism’s to repair itself is the critical function of the stem cell therapy procedure.

Patients can typically resume their normal activities the same day. While rest and some minor medications may be prescribed for swelling etc., mobility is still maintained. A course of injections is normally the preferred treatment course, so be prepared to repeat the process every week or so.

PRP Therapy

Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy, or PRP Therapy, is fast becoming an emerging technology for the treatment of several medical conditions and injuries including chronic back pain, tendonitis, hip arthritis, rotator cuff injuries, knee pain, and knee arthritis among others.

PRP Therapy has been used since the mid 1990’s in dental and oral surgery and to aid in the recovery of soft tissues following plastic surgery. Since then, the use of platelet rich plasma therapy has increased especially in the world of sports medicine

PRP Therapy starts out with the patient getting between 40 and 60 cc of their blood drawn. That blood is then placed in a machine called a centrifuge, which spins it at a high speed for between 10 and 15 minutes. The result is that the different types of blood cells that make up the blood are separated; the portion with the platelets is then extracted. The concentrated platelets are injected at the site of the injury. The doctor uses ultrasound image guidance to guide the needle to the precise point where the injection will be most helpful.

The PRP preparation may contain up to 10 times the amount of platelets found in blood.

Platelet rich plasma therapy or PRP as it is commonly called, may be administered as one injection or in a series. It depends on the severity of the injury and how each person’s body responds to the therapy.

As a hip pain sufferer, prospective patient’s should seek the full story of hip replacement options and alternatives.  Pain killers mask symptoms and a full hip replacement can be a long and painful process.

Alternative therapies such as Stem Cell and PRP Therapy are quickly becoming viable options and should be discussed prior to life altering hip replacement therapy.

Reduced pain, shorter recovery times, and cost efficiency coupled with the use of your bodies own recovery mechanisms, could make these alternative, the first, best option.


As with any form of medical treatment, you should consult with your physician before embarking on any treatment plan. The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be deemed accurate for the purposes of diagnosing your particular medical condition

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