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Cutting Corners On Hip Replacements

Sep 5, 2008
Private health insurance is a huge buffer for those who suffer hip problems. This is one of the body's largest joints and as such, has a wide range of movement and also bears the brunt of the biggest stresses. Constant pressure is put on this joint and as such it is one of the first to wear away, along with knees. Hip replacement operations are a common occurrence on the National Health Service but, as with many operations, there can be a bit of a wait, unless you have health insurance that is willing to pay for the operation when you need it.

A deterioration of the hip joint is usually a gradual process, often over several years due to wear and tear in old age and conditions such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. But it can also be due to trauma such as fracture of the thigh bone or damage resulting in loss of blood to the head of the femur.

At first, it is an issue of pain management but with hip joints that are wearing, patients will eventually get to the point of needing a replacement joint. This particular operation has been very welcome for the sufferers and is one of the great advancements of modern medicine for bringing quality of life to patients. According to the NHS direct website on the matter, at least 50,000 total hip replacements are carried out every year.

That said, it is a major operation and doctors are trying to minimise the impact by carrying out resurfacing operations as opposed to complete joint replacements. This is a useful way of providing immediate relief for the patient but is nowhere near as long lasting as hip replacement. In fact, recent figures suggest you would be quite lucky to get three years out of a hip resurfacing operation.

This involves coating the worn bone with metal plating and is done to try and reduce the trauma that patients suffer when going through major operations such as full hip replacement. Once only available through the finances of health insurance it is now more widely available on the NHS but is there much point if you have to go through it more than once? Full hip replacements are normally long term fixes for worn, extremely painful hip joints.

One patient who tried the hip resurfacing operation was left sorely disappointed. The sixty year old man had heard of this procedure in its early days and, through his health insurance, was able to go ahead with the operation. However, within five weeks the bone had re-fractured, landing him in hospital once again where the NHS carried out a full hip replacement for him. It's possible that this man was just unlucky as no medical care is completely fail proof but advancements in modern medicine hope to reduce the chances of this happening.

These hip operations also coincide with the partial knee joint operations that are replacing full replacements. According to The Times, the current understanding is that one in seventy five of these partial operations will fail and that's a fairly high chance. Until these odds can be narrowed further, then the best bet is to keep up to date with your health insurance and if you should ever find yourself in need of medical care, at least you will have options open to you.
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