Alternatives to hip replacement 

Before being considered for a hip replacement you will probably be given a number of non-surgical treatments to see if they are effective in relieving hip pain and stiffness.

Non-surgical treatments can also be used if you are unable or unwilling to have hip replacement surgery.

These may include:

  • Painkillers, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), if your hip joint is also inflamed.
  • Steroid injections can help in some cases, although their results are unpredictable in the hip so not generally recommended.
  • Pain-relieving creams, gels and rubs are available over the counter or on prescription. It is not known how these compare with more conventional ways of taking painkillers.
  • Disease-modifying medications – these medications alter the working of the immune system to block the underlying processes involved in certain forms of inflammatory arthritis.

For more detailed information on treatment options for the most common causes of hip pain see:

Hip resurfacing

Hip resurfacing involves removing the upper surface of the femur (thigh bone) as well as the surface of the cavity in the pelvis in which the femur sits.

Both of these surfaces are then covered with a metal surfacing (metal-on-metal). This helps correct a damaged joint into a correct position. An advantage of hip resurfacing is that less bone is removed than in a hip replacement.

Hip resurfacing requires that a person has relatively strong bones so it is usually only suitable for younger adults and it may not be suitable for:

  • adults over the age of 65 years – bones tend to weaken as a person becomes older
  • women who have gone through the menopause – one of the side effects of the menopause is that the bones can become weakened and brittle (osteoporosis)

Your surgeon should be able to tell you if you could be a suitable candidate for hip resurfacing.

Page last reviewed: 20/07/2014

Next review due: 20/07/2016