Cross Words for Puzzling Thigh Pain after a New Hip JointAn "enigma" is something that's hard to understand, something puzzling. Thigh pain after a surgery for a new hip joint is one of such puzzle. This enigmatic pain can occur when a cementless implant is used. Doctors report several possible causes.
Sometimes the implant is too stiff for the bone. It doesn't "bend" enough so that stress builds up between the bone and the implant. The shape and size of the implant are also important. There is a greater chance of thigh pain with a larger implant.
The quality of the patient's bone is also important. Poor bone structure from osteoporosis results in a "less stiff" bone. The zone between the implant and weaker bone may be mismatched. Thigh pain can be the result.
This pain is usually described as a dull ache. There is no fever and no history of trauma or illness. The patient often points to the spot where the tip of the implant is located. Some patients report only mild discomfort. Others walk with a limp and need to use a cane or walker. The pain can be severe enough to limit activity. The patient may even need pain medication.
Doctors are working with companies that make joint implants to find a better joint replacement. The goal is to design one that is firm enough, but not too stiff. In general, a joint replacement done without cement is less likely to come loose than one held in place with cement. The right size and shape to match each patient is also important in preventing thigh pain.
Thomas E. Brown, MD, et al. Thigh Pain After Cementless Total Hip Arthroplasty: Evaluation and Management. In Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. November/December 2002. Vol. 10. No. 6. Pp. 385-392.
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