For the vast majority of patients, a hip replacement operation is expected to last them for the rest of their life. However, like anything in life, there’s the possibility that an issue could develop in the artificial hip. One issue that some patients complain about is that their new hip makes a subtle creaking or squeaking noise when they move it in certain directions. Is a squeaking hip a problem, or is it just something you should monitor? We explain why your new hip might be squeaking and what it means for your health in today’s blog.
Why Does An Artificial Hip Squeak?
The majority of patients will not experience any squeaking from their new hip, but over time some patients may notice a slight noise when moving in certain directions. So why does this occur? Some potential causes of a squeaking artificial hip include:
- Implant Surface Issues – Most new hips are made of metal or plastic, but older implants may be ceramic. These ceramic implants aren’t as durable as the newer models, and there’s a chance they wear down ever so slightly over time, and these changes can lead to squeaking as the hip joint continues to move.
- Implant Positioning – Your surgeon will test to ensure the new hip joint is in the correct position prior to completing surgery, but if alignment is off even a little, it can lead to some squeaking or creaking in the joint. This is a possibility, but with today’s alignment tests, it’s unlikely that an alignment issue is the root cause of the noise you’re hearing.
- Patient Characteristics – Squeaking could be driven by some patient-related factors, like age, weight and your standard gait. Losing weight or undergoing physical therapy to correct a gait issue can help to mitigate squeaking in your hip that is the result of these causes.
- Implant Degeneration – Implants are designed to stand the test of time, and similar to the brakes on your car, they probably won’t squeak if they start to wear down. Instead, they tend to make a clunking or grinding noise, but again, today’s hips are designed to last for decades, so squeaking as a result of implant degeneration is unlikely, but should still be ruled out.
If your implant is squeaking, you should bring this to the attention of your surgeon and your medical team. In most instances, artificial joint squeaking is not a huge problem. It’s more of an annoyance. Your doctor will want to rule out any potential problems like implant degeneration or alignment issues, but oftentimes it just comes down to the way pressure is exerted on the new joint. Again, it’s not a common occurrence, but for those who experience it, it’s unlikely that it’s a sign of a problem that needs surgical intervention.
Over time, you may find that you tune out the squeaking, and if you compare the audible noise to the pain you were likely in prior to your hip replacement, odds are you’d take the noise over the discomfort every day. When you add in the fact that revisional hip replacement surgery is typically more invasive and challenging than the initial procedure, most patients resign to the fact that a little squeaking is the price they pay for being able to remain active with a new hip. We can also help direct you to a physical therapist or exercise techniques to help you lose weight or correct a mechanical issue that could be causing the squeak so it can potentially be corrected with conservative means.
So if you’re dealing with a squeaking hip, bring it up to your doctor but know that in most cases, it’s not a sign that you’ll need another surgery. We’ll work with you to do what we can to mitigate the sound and improve your quality of life. For more information, reach out to Dr. Botero’s office today.