*****FROM ABC NEWS MEDICAL UNIT*****
Question from jzmsc from the ABC News OnCall+ Pain comment board, posted on Jan. 29:
My husband was hit head-on by a drunk driver almost two years ago. He has arthritis and bursitis (one in each hip). He is in severe pain all the time, yet takes pain medication that relieves part of the pain. How can he get total relief from his pain? Are there alternative medicines that would help (herbal, etc.) because I really don't want him on pain medications the rest of his life. He is only in his early 40s and his orthopedic told him hip replacement surgery is out of the question because surgeons won't even talk with him until he's 50. Please help.
Hi jzmsc and thank you for your question. Here is an answer from Benoy Benny, M.D., Director, Spine, Sports and Pain Program, Baylor College of Medicine:
This can be a very complicated issue. Let me assure though that there are many options that he still has. The most conservative options for bursitis (which is an inflamatory response) and arthritis which can cause pain is using medications. These medications would involve an anti-inflamatory medication used appropriately. This could be something like Alleve (2 tablets two wo times daily with food if ok with his primary care physician) or an appropriate dose of ibuprofen. You always want to check with your primary care physician to make sure that these medications do not interfere with other medications. Other stronger pain medications can also be used but again you need to check with your doctor. The idea of using these pain medications would be to make him more functional and not more sedated.
The next step is to consider if a steroid injection would help. This often can cause enough relief to get to where the pain can be controlled until patients reach the age of 50. Sometimes these just need to be done once or sometimes these may need to be done twice a year just depending on the results that vary per patient. What is fairly new that people have been doing is also injecting hyaluronidase into the hip (Common ones include synvisc and hyalgan). These often provide longer relief than steroids for arthritic pain.
Finally there is surgery depending on what he has. His orthopedist is absolutely right and many orthopedists do not want to do a hip replacement too early because they do not last forever and if a person is fairly young and active then it may not last till the end of their life. There are some orthopedists however who may do it a little earlier, so you can always get a second opinion if you really wanted.
Hopefully this is helpful.