Hounslow out-of-hours
Hounslow out-of-hours

Research shows 1 in 5 awaiting a hip replacement are in ‘extreme pain or discomfort’

September 11 2019

New research from the University of Edinburgh has disproved the perception that pain from hip and knee arthritis is only mildly discomforting and that surgery is an option. The results of the study show that 1 in 5 patients waiting for a hip replacement are experiencing a level of pain ‘worse than death’.

The results have been welcomed by orthopaedic surgeons at Care UK, who are keen to emphasise that patients have the right to choose where they are treated, as well as their right to switch to a shorter waiting list if they have been waiting for surgery for over 18 weeks.

The Edinburgh researchers are the first to use a quality of life measurement to analyse levels of pain in those with hip problems. They found that 20% of people waiting for a hip replacement, and 12% of those waiting for a knee replacement, reported extreme pain or discomfort – a worse result than those for diabetes, heart failure or lung diseases.

The research measured 4,000 hip replacement patients and 2,000 knee replacement patients.

Jac Ciampolini, Medical Director at Shepton Mallet NHS Treatment Centre, commented: “We welcome this latest study because it takes seriously the debilitating pain experienced by our patients before surgery. Acute pain in the hip or knee has a huge effect on a patient’s general health. It precludes them from exercise, which is good for cardiac and pulmonary health and which helps keep conditions such as diabetes at bay, and it stops them from doing the things they enjoy. It can also have a detrimental effect psychologically – living long-term with pain is mentally gruelling, affects sleep patterns and can lead to depression or more serious mental health issues.”

He added: “In many cases, by the time patients get to us for treatment they may have been in pain and waiting for surgery for years. It is extremely useful to have a study of this stature which explicitly states that, for the thousands of patients in acute joint pain, surgery is a necessity and not an option and that patients should not be the first to have their treatment limited or cancelled all together.”

The study can be read here.

9 signs you may need a hip replacement

More than 50,500 hip replacements took place across England and Wales last year. It is a major, yet effective and common operation and over time becomes the only way to eradicate pain and improve quality of life.

How do you know when you need a hip replacement? Here are 9 signs to look out for and to discuss with your GP:

  • Persistent or recurring pain in your hip over a period of time, or pain which may also flare up in rainy weather or changes in temperature
  • Aching in your hip during and after exercise, with progressively limited hip motion or degree of bend in the joint
  • Increasing immobility such as difficulty getting in and out of chairs, walking or climbing stairs
  • A ‘grating’ feeling in the hip joint
  • Stiffness in the hip joint when you get out of bed
  • Continual pain even with medication and using a cane, and pain that keeps you awake at night
  • Stiffening up of the joint after sitting for a period of time, such as driving or at the cinema
  • Increasing pain, discomfort and immobility from a previous hip injury (such as a fractured pelvis)
  • Related pain elsewhere, such as in the knees or groin

If you have experienced any of these symptoms and are worried, you should discuss them with your GP.