Alternatives to Hip Replacement for Osteoarthritis

Alternatives to Hip Replacement for Osteoarthritis

Increasing numbers of young adults are having hip replacement surgery. There are some options that can delay the need for surgery until a later time. From a medical perspective, conventional medical recommendations may help alleviate pain and improve functioning.


These options include:

  • anti-inflammatory medicines like ibuprofen to decrease pain and swelling
  • steroid injections directly into the affected joint which reduces the immune response and inflammation; provides benefit if joint is not too worn away
  • physical therapy for mild to moderate hip arthritis
  • alterations in lifestyle like avoiding activities that increase pain, and substituting less stress-inducing exercises like swimming
  • hydrotherapy
  • aids like crutches, cane, walker

Using some or all of the above may postpone the need for surgery for several years.


There are some factors that can increase the development of osteoarthritis. These factors include:

  • overweight
  • genetic factors
  • injury to the joint
  • overuse of the joint


The goal of treatment is to decrease pain and inflammation and improve functionality. There is no cure for cartilage loss or repairs for damaged cartilage. By treating osteoarthritis in the early stages, there is a good probability that hip replacement can be delayed or avoided. Swimming and strength exercises are beneficial in the early stages.


 Some additional medical alternatives that have been used include:

  • hip resurfacing surgery
  • partial hip replacement
  • Girdlestone Procedure
  • hip osteotomy


Another perspective is the holistic approach. This involves supplementation with glucosamine, capsaicin creams, acupuncture, tai chi, biofeedback, yoga, and mental health applications.

These therapies work on different levels to reduce pain and inflammation.

  • Glucosamine – maintenance of cartilage including repair
  • capsaicin – blocks pain
  • acupuncture – uses needles at specific points to bring about pain relief by unblocking clogged energy points
  • tai chi – uses simple movements, controlled breathing, and mental concentration to invoke balance, confidence in movement, gentle exercise, mental control
  • yoga – gentle movement
  • biofeedback – reduce stress and negative thinking
  • mental health applications like writing in a journal, spirituality, and meditation


If hip replacement has been recommended, it is always a good idea to get a second opinion before making a decision. Weigh the options and consider both types of alternatives which can relieve pain and postpone the need for surgery.

Many times lifestyle changes and continual therapy can help. Surgical complications like infection and prosthesis failure can occur with any surgical intervention. Education will enable you to make an informed decision regarding the best treatment option for you.

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