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What should I know if I have a metal-on-metal hip implant?

A hip replacement is a huge deal. You know that you will have to be off work for a while, but you likely don't think that the choice to have a replacement could make your life difficult as it often does for people in this situation.

Unfortunately, people who had a metal-on-metal hip implant are finding that the design of these implants is causing some problems. Metal-on-metal do have some of the same problems and risks as other types of hip implants. However, there are some problems that are associated with only these implants.

Why do surgeons use metal-on-metal hip implants?

Surgeons use metal-on-metal hip implants because they are thought to last longer. The ball of the implant is larger than other implants, which is said to give them more stability. Previously, it was thought that these implants wouldn't give off debris within the body like other implants. However, it is now known that metal-on-metal gives off shavings with normal usage.

What are the risks of these implants?

Debris that comes from the implant can enter the bloodstream, which can lead to medical problems. You might have pain and swelling from the implant. There is a chance that you could have a reaction to the metal used. You might also suffer from a change in the way you walk.

All hip implants have a risk of infection. Bone loss, joint weakening and loosening are all possible with any hip implant. Other effects, such as cardiomyopathy, are also possible but they are very rare.

How are these issues treated?

The treatment depends on the issue that is present. Infection might require that you take intravenous antibiotics. However, some cases might respond to oral antibiotics. Pain might require medication to relieve the pain. If you have any issues that you think are related to the hip, you should contact either the surgeon or your primary care physician. This should be done as soon as you notice the issue, especially if it is painful or concerning.

What happens when the hip is causing life-altering problems?

You may need to have the hip removed and replaced. In some cases, the replacement can't occur at the same time as the removal, so you would be left sans a hip until the replacement surgery could be completed. Of course, all of this means that you will be down while you recover from another surgical procedure.

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