1 in 5 wait for hip replacement in ‘extreme’ pain

Researchers say procedures are ’highly cost-effective’ and should not be cancelled or delayed

Thursday 15th August 2019

One in five people waiting for a hip replacement are in ‘extreme’ pain or discomfort, a study has found.

Edinburgh university researchers say this figure is worse than many other chronic health conditions including heart failure, diabetes and lung disease.  

The figure for people on a knee replacement waiting list was 12 per cent.

Scientists say the findings disprove a common belief that arthritis in these joints only causes ‘mild’ discomfort and that surgery is optional.

Their research indicates joint replacements are ‘highly cost-effective’ and should not be rationed or cancelled at times of high demand.

More than 4,000 Scottish patients had their health conditions rated for the study, their ability to carry out everyday activities and look after themselves, as well as their levels of mobility, discomfort and anxiety.

Of the more than 2000 people waiting for a total hip replacement, 19 per cent were in ‘extreme’ pain or discomfort, a rating defined as ‘worse than death’ in the EQ-5D international scoring system used for the research.

Some 12 per cent of the 2000-plus people waiting for knee replacements said they were in a similar condition.

Both groups’ pain improved ‘dramatically’ after their operations.

The study is published in the Bone and Joint Journal.

Chloe Scott, consultant orthopaedic surgeon and honorary senior clinical lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, said: “Patients with the most extreme EQ-5D scores should be a priority for health care delivery.

“Indeed, given the overall high levels of pain and disability described by all patients awaiting joint replacement compared with most other illnesses, access to appropriate treatment should be free and available to all at the time of need not limited by cost or bed availability.”