In metal-on-metal hip implants, the metal ball and the metal cup slide against each other during physical activity (such as walking and running). This friction causes tiny metal particles to wear off into the surrounding area. Metal can also be released from other parts of the implant where components connect. 

The metal ions (e.g., cobalt, chromium) from the implant or the loosened particles can enter the bloodstream and cause damage to the bone and tissue surrounding the implant, leading to an adverse local tissue reaction (ALTR) or adverse reaction to metal debris (ARMD). This can result in pain, implant loosening, device failure, and the need for revision surgery (where the old device is replaced with a new one). Patients with a progressing ALTR may need earlier revision to prevent extensive damage to bone, muscle, and nerves.

What are the symptoms from a faulty hip prosthetic?

The patients who reported problems in the first five years and had revision surgery experienced a variety of symptoms, which included pain, swelling, and difficulty walking. These symptoms are normal if you have just had a hip replacement. But if the symptoms continue or come back, it is a sign that there may be other problems, such as:

  • Loosening, when the implant does not stay attached to the bone in the right position
  • Fracture, where the bone around the implant may have broken
  • Dislocation, where the two parts of the implant that move against each other are no longer aligned

Your hip implant is made up of ball and socket components that move against each other. These components are made of metal that wears over time and generates very small particles that can only be seen with a microscope. This is an expected process. These particles do not cause problems for most patients, but a small number of patients may react to these particles, causing fluid to collect in the joint and in the muscles around the joint. While this condition may initially be painless, if left untreated, this reaction may cause pain and swelling around the joint and could damage some of the muscles, bones, and nerves around the hip.

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