Dear Dr. Roach: I'm 69 years old. I take no medications, and I'm in very good health. Fifteen years ago, I had a hip replacement and now it is starting to squeak when I walk.
It is a ceramic socket and a titanium ball. Is there any kind of cream I can rub on my hip or an injection I could get to lubricate the joint? When will I know that I absolutely have to get my hip replaced?
A: I can understand why the squeaking noise could be very annoying or troubling, but most often the squeak does not indicate a problem with the joint.
Unfortunately, there is no cream you can rub on that can get into the prosthetic joint, and no lubricant that can be injected will stay in long enough to effectively treat the squeak.
The main goal in evaluation of the joint is to determine whether there is damage to the prosthesis, the replacement hip. This requires a history and exam, imaging studies, and possibly blood tests or testing of joint fluid. If the joint is still in good shape (90% still are, even after 15 years), and you are moving well and not in pain, then nothing needs to be done. I would strongly advise against surgical revision of the joint unless there is a clear reason to do so. The presence of symptoms, especially pain, is the primary reason to do a surgical revision of the hip, which is generally a more difficult surgery than the initial replacement.
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