Following on from Manchester United winning the 2012/13 Premier League, it has been announced that the former United boss is to undergo hip surgery during the summer. A hip replacement is a commonly performed piece of surgery and is conducted where replacement of a damaged hip joint is needed. The artificial replacement is also known as a prosthesis. Thankfully, following on from his retirement, Sir Alex will now have a sufficient period to recover, which usually results in a return to work between 6 to 12 weeks after the operation. Those of us who have witnessed the ‘hairdryer’ in action would find it difficult to envisage the Boss using crutches along the touchline during the rehabilitation period.
The hip is one of the largest joints in the body and operates as a ‘ball and socket joint’. In a healthy person, the bones are connected using bands of tissue called ligaments. These ligaments are lubricated to reduce friction. The joints are also surrounded by a type of tissue called cartilage, which also prevents the bones from rubbing against each other. A hip joint can become damaged in many ways or by excessive usage in activities such as sport. A person may suffer a condition such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or suffer a hip fracture. Children and young adults may also require a hip replacement following incorrect formation (known as hip dysplasia).
During hip replacement surgery, a person undergoes a general anaesthetic and the damaged hip joint is removed and replaced with an artificial joint such as a metal alloy or a ceramic cup.
Recently, there have been cases of metal-on-metal (MoM), where replacements have been wearing out quicker than the expected 15 year duration. People who have undergone metal-on-metal replacements have experienced deterioration in the bone and tissue around the hip. There are also concerns that the metal fragments from friction within the faulty item could leak traces of metal into the bloodstream. Recent estimates are that there are some 49,000 people in the UK who have received metal-on-metal implants with a head width of 36mm or above. Whilst any hip implant will wear down over time, clinical and medical negligence claims are being brought by patients with the large head MoM hip implants i.e. those of typically 36 mm or greater. Generally, people with this type of implants are experiencing inflammation and discomfort in the area around the implant.