Hip replacement surgery

Hip replacement surgery involves replacing the hip joint with a synthetic implant. In a total hip replacement both the thigh bone (femur) and the socket (acetabulum) are replaced by artificial components.

Hip replacement surgery is recommended after all conservative treatment options fail to provide relief from symptoms. Not everyone with hip joint pain needs a total hip replacement. Weight loss and using a walking cane will serve to reduce stress on the hips which may help avoid the need for surgery for several years after the onset of  arthritis. Exercise, physical therapy, ice, massage and deep heat assist patients with their pain, range of motion and strength. Anti-inflammatory medications are used to reduce both the pain and swelling caused by arthritis. Corticosteroids reduce inflammation therefore easing joint pain but are generally not recommended for long-term treatment due to their side effects such as  causing  further destruction of joint cartilage.

If all fails and the patient’s quality of life is affected due to painful osteoarthritis, he may be advised by the doctor to consider  hip replacement surgery.

Conditions that may require hip replacement:

There are several diseases and conditions that may require hip replacement. Some of the common causes are:

Osteoarthritis occurs when cartilage on the end of bone begins wearing away, causing pain and stiffness. When the cartilage wears away completely, the bones rub directly against each other causing decreased mobility.

Rheumatoid arthritis is actually an autoimmune disease which causes inflammation of the synovial membrane thus damaging the cartilage.

Traumatic arthritis results from a serious hip injury. The cartilage becomes damaged causing hip pain and stiffness.

Preparing for the surgery

One of the most important factors contributing to the success of the operation is weight loss as obesity may lead to hip-surgery complications.  Start the process of losing weight before your operation and continue to lose weight after the surgery to help in the process of recovery.

Before an operation is scheduled, you’ll complete a physical exam and tests to rule out any health conditions that might interfere with the procedure.The patient hospital stay may vary from one to five days depending on the type of hip replacement the patient will undergo and the general condition of the patient.

Pain after the surgery will be managed with medication. To avoid lung congestion after surgery, you should breathe deeply and cough frequently to clear your lungs.

Possible complications of the surgery:

The rate of medical complications following hip replacement surgery is extremely low. Serious infections, such as a hip joint infection, occur in less than 2 percent of patients.  Patients should   treat infections of the skin, dental or urinary tract infections promptly by taking antibiotics because they affect the  outcome of the surgery by spreading bacteria in the blood stream.

Blood clots in the leg vein are common complication of hip replacement surgery and can be prevented by medication and support stockings.

After the surgery

Doctors will advise you to return to activities that require simple effort in 10 weeks time but if your work requires standing, walking or physical activity then may be a little longer. Patients usually return to “normal life activities” and regain full hip movement in three and six months after the surgery. Even though there is a variation in the recovery time between patients.

It is important that you restrict certain movements in your hips early after surgery. Your surgeon will discuss these movements with you and give you exercises to help strengthen your hip joint and to regain full hip movement

You will not be allowed to drive for 3-6 weeks and you will need assistance for the first 4 or 5 days that you are home. Stairs should be avoided till the doctor allows you to use them.

The staples or stitches of the wound will be removed around 14 days after your surgery. Keep the wound clean and dry. Avoid showers until forty-eight hours after your staple have been removed. Routine follow-up visits are scheduled with your orthopedic surgeon  after your surgery  to assess the status and function of your implant.

For more instructions after hip replacement click here