|Total hip replacement (or hip arthroplasty) is a technique that has become widespread in recent years in response to the need for improving hip joints that have been damaged by injury or arthritis. Joint replacement surgery may offer the best treatment option for long-term improvement for the hip joint when other treatments have proven inadequate. In most cases, having a total hip replacement reduces joint pain and means a return to pain-free movement. |
What causes pain in the hips? The human hip is a ball and socket joint. It is the most flexible and free-moving joint in the body, and can move backwards and forwards, to the side, and can perform twisting motions. Full function of the hip is dependent on the coordination of bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments and nerves.
Hip pain can be caused by a variety of factors, including:
- An injury that does not heal properly
- A chronic illness
- Normal wear and tear from years of constant use
- Severe arthritic conditions, especially osteoarthritis
- Injuries as a result of trauma, such as a hip fracture or dislocation caused by a fall
If hip replacement surgery is the best treatment option for you, your physician will refer you to an orthopaedic surgeon with expertise in this procedure. Your orthopaedic surgeon will evaluate your hip joint with a full physical exam and X-rays and develop a treatment plan about how surgery can best benefit you. Your surgeon will also ask you about any past medical problems.
What are the benefits of a hip replacement surgery? Relief from pain is the greatest benefit and the major reason for hip replacement surgery. The procedure offers other benefits, such as:
- Improved movement, strength and coordination of the torso and leg.
- The ability to walk, climb stairs and maintain an active lifestyle in greater comfort.
What are the risks associated with a hip replacement surgery? There are possible risks and complications that may happen through hip replacement surgery associated with anaesthesia, including respiratory or cardiac malfunction. Other complications include:
Patients at increased risk for complications are those with severe rheumatoid arthritis or systemic lupus. In addition, patients with insulin-dependent (type 1) diabetes, malnourishment, haemophilia, or those who have had previous prosthetic joint infections are at higher risk. Make sure to contact your orthopaedic surgeon immediately, if you experience any of these problems after surgery.
Several variables affect the ultimate success of hip replacement surgery. These include the strength of the patient’s bones and muscles and his or her general health and lifestyle. Commitment to a rehabilitation program is also an important part of the recovery process, since improvement to the hip joint is determined by the patient’s rehabilitation effort.
How to prepare for a hip replacement surgery? In order to prepare for surgery, patients are requested to schedule a series of appointments prior to the surgery date to receive testing and clearance for surgery. During these appointments, studies including lab testing, urine analysis, EKG, and X-rays are conducted. Based on the results of these tests and the patient’s health history, clearance is initiated for the surgery. Depending on the patient’s condition, additional testing may be required prior to surgery.
Are there any exercises before a hip replacement surgery? It is important to do strengthening exercises and conditioning prior to surgery to help ensure a better outcome and recovery. Being stronger prior to surgery is a big benefit and helps in your rehabilitation program progress.
The following exercises are recommended prior to surgery:
- Tighten muscles in the thigh and then straighten your knee flat. Hold for a count of 5 then relax. Do ten times, twice a day.
- Tighten buttocks, pushing heels down into the bed. Hold for a count of 5 then relax. Do ten times, twice a day.
What happens during a hip replacement surgery? The surgery technique involves removing the diseased portion of the hipbone and replacing it with an artificial hip joint (called prosthesis).
What happens after a hip replacement surgery? Post surgery, medicines and physiotherapy may be prescribed by your surgeon to prevent blood clots. The recovery period after surgery depends on the patient and their individual needs and medical condition.
What is the rehabilitation process after a hip replacement surgery? Rehabilitation and physiotherapy are started immediately following surgery and continue throughout hospitalization and at home for one year after surgery. On the first day after surgery, the physiotherapist will meet with you for an assessment. On the second day, your physiotherapist will monitor the strength and flexibility in your leg and hip, as well as your ability to stand and sit. In addition, he/she will provide goals and instructions for you to complete while in the hospital and at home.