In the past, hip surgery was primarily for fractures. Today, hip replacement surgery is becoming much more common to help people improve mobility and reduce pain. As the name implies, the hip joint is replaced with an artificial hip. It’s a major procedure, which means it’s important to prepare carefully and work hard at recovery. Here’s what you need to know about hip replacement surgery, courtesy of the Orthopedic Research Clinic of Alaska.
Why Hip Replacement Surgery?
The ball-and-socket hip joint is susceptible to all kinds of conditions that may necessitate surgery. Osteoarthritis (wear and tear), rheumatoid arthritis and arthritis following a hip injury or fracture can damage cartilage or even bone. Sometimes the blood supply to the hip is limited from injury or disease. The bone begins to collapse (avascular necrosis). Occasionally hip replacement surgery will be performed on younger people who have hip problems as a child so the bones didn’t develop properly.
About Hip Replacement Surgery
The primary reasons for surgery are pain that limits activities. It doesn’t respond to treatment; pain that continues day or night, and stiffness or inability to move the leg. Your doctor may recommend you donate your own blood and save it to then used during the operation. A general anesthetic is usually used, although some patients may have spinal anesthesia, a nerve block or a combination. The damaged bone and cartilage are removed then replaced with a metal and plastic ball and socket. The procedure takes several hours and you should expect to spend five to seven days in the hospital.
The postoperative period after hip surgery is designed to promote healing and prevent complications. You’ll need pain management, which is usually intravenous medications or a special type of local pain relief, epidural catheter. You may also need a urinary catheter. After several days, you’ll use oral pain medications. You’ll need to deep breathe and use a special device called a spirometer to prevent pneumonia, and wear special inflatable stockings to help prevent blood clots.
Hip Surgery Rehab
Some of your hip surgery rehab preparations should begin prior to the operation. Your home should be set up to allow easy mobility – install secure handrails in the bathroom and on all stairways. A firm, stable chair will help keep your knees lower than your hips. Tools such as a shower bench, long-handled scrub brush and a “reacher” to pick up objects from the floor will also come in handy. An exercise program prior to the surgery will help towards a speedy recovery and prevent complications.
Hip replacement surgery can have a major impact on your quality of life. Many patients experience greatly reduced pain and have much more mobility once the healing period is complete. If you have questions or concerns about hip replacement surgery, please contact us.