I am amazed at how many stories on here are so similar to mine — so many people in their 40s who are having total hip replacements. I would never have thought that I’d be contemplating a THR at my age, but I am 47 and have been suffering through progressively worse hip pain for the last 4 years.
I walk with a limp, but it’s from a combination of pain and the fact that my leg lengths are seemingly about an inch different. The doctor did a hip to ankle scanogram to see if my femurs were different lengths (nope), but apparently my spine has curved, from what I have no idea, which is giving the appearance that my left leg is longer. If I stand straight on my right foot, my left knee must be bent. If I stand straight on my left foot, my right heel is an inch off the ground and I’m leaning left. (Side note: I was in the marching band in HS and we had to stand at attention (feet together, stand straight and tall) and I never remember having this issue with leg length discrepancy. It’s definitely onset in the last few years.)
I’ve done the physical therapy and cortisone shots (relief lasted for 2 months). An orthopedist diagnosed me with severe arthritis and hip dysplasia (shallow socket), said my cartilage was gone and I have bone spurs, and advised that repeated cortisone shots were only going to get less effective (yep, second one lasted 6 weeks and provided less relief than the first). He prescribed physical therapy again (went through PT first time in 2014) and said I needed to get my hip muscles in the best possible condition before he would consider doing surgery. So I suffered through the painful PT for 3 months. My muscles may be slightly stronger, but the pain remains.
I researched other orthopedists and got a second opinion on my diagnosis and treatment. This hip specialist confirmed the diagnosis, and said it was only going to get worse, so it was up to me how long I wanted to “put it off” – “it” being THR. This doctor is highly recommended, and she performs the anterior approach (no cutting muscles) excellent video here: https://youtu.be/MTJK9tdSsQY , so I’ve decided to do the THR next month.
Since I’m probably going to outlast the replacement parts, I asked her at my consultation about what parts need to be replaced. The metal stem, femoral head, and acetabular component are titanium and don’t need to be replaced – it’s the acetabular “liner” which is the polyethylene piece equivalent to cartilage, which can/will wear out over time depending on how much wear and tear you put on it. Easy peasy, right? Yeah, as long as they continue making the parts for that particular set of hardware. She warned, as they come out with new hardware and procedures for THR, they stop making the parts for your hardware. So I told the surgeon, jokingly, “ok, so I’ll just buy a spare liner and keep it in my safe deposit box until I need it.” To my surprise, she said “well, believe it or not, they have a shelf life and expire.” So much for my brilliant solution. So I guess I’ll just cross that bridge when/if I come to it. What other option do I have.
Very glad to have stumbled upon this site with so many similar stories. I’m even more confident that I’m doing the right thing and it’s not necessarily “too soon.” Mobility and quality of life NOW is what matters.