Hip joint replacement
Image credit: @psodaz, Freepik
What is hip replacement surgery?
Hip replacement surgery is when a surgeon makes an incision on the side of the thigh, removes the diseased parts of the hip joint, and replaces them with new artificial features. These parts mimic the way a normal hip joint works. Parts can be made of metal, plastic, ceramic, or a combination of these materials.
The goals of hip replacement surgery include:
relieve pain from the damaged or diseased hip joint,
improve the functioning of the hip joint,
help you move better.
During hip replacement surgery, the surgeon uses the minor incision possible to limit the injury to soft tissue and bone.
Why is hip replacement surgery necessary?
Common reasons for hip replacement surgery include repair of damage to the joint due to:
injuries or broken bones from trauma or disease.
Your doctor may recommend that you try other treatments before having hip replacement surgery, including:
pain relief medications,
physical therapy and exercise programs,
changes in activities to limit stress on the hip,
assistive devices, such as a cane, crutch, or walker.
You and your doctor will determine the most appropriate treatment based on your medical history and the risks associated with the surgery.
How do I prepare for hip replacement surgery?
Preparation for hip replacement surgery begins several weeks before it is performed. Being as healthy as possible before surgery can help you recover. Here are some things you can do to prepare for surgery and recovery:
Ask your surgeon or other members of your healthcare team what to expect. Whenever possible, ask for information in writing so you can review it later, if necessary.
Find out from your surgeon what exercises you can do before surgery to get stronger.
If you smoke, try to quit or cut back.
If you are overweight, try to lose weight. Being overweight can increase the chance of having problems during or after surgery.
Arrange transportation for your surgery and any follow-up visits.
Ask someone to help you with household chores for a week or two after you return home. This may include helping to cook, shop, and do laundry.
Prepare meals ahead of time.
Set up an area in your home where you will spend most of your time recovering. You may want:
Keep your TV remote, cell phone, medications, tissues, and trash can nearby.
Place other items you use daily close to you so you can easily reach them.
Wear an apron with pockets to carry things around the house. This leaves your hands and arms free to balance or use crutches.
Use a long-handled “reacher” or “scooper” to turn on lights or grab things beyond your reach.
Talk to your healthcare team about devices that can help you with daily activities:
bathroom safety bars,
a raised toilet seat,
a shower chair or bench to use while showering,
gadgets to help you get around, such as a walker or crutches.
What happens during hip replacement surgery?
During hip replacement surgery:
You will be given anesthesia to keep you comfortable and pain-free during surgery. The type of anesthesia you are offered will depend on your medical history and the medications you take.
Your surgeon will make an incision over your hip. The incision size will vary depending on many factors, including your body size and your surgeon's preferences.
Your surgeon will remove the diseased bone tissue and cartilage from the hip joint and insert the new artificial parts.
After surgery, you will be taken to the recovery room.
What can I expect after hip replacement surgery?
How long you stay in the hospital or surgical center after surgery depends on many factors, including your general health. Some people can go home the same day, while others must stay in the hospital. Here are some common steps during recovery:
If you need more time and additional therapy to recover, your healthcare team may recommend that you spend time in a skilled nursing or rehabilitation facility.
Everyone with hip replacement surgery learns exercises to strengthen the hip and how to get around safely.
Whether you stay in the hospital, go home the same day, or transfer to another facility, your healthcare team will give you instructions to follow once you are home.
How quickly and well you recover from hip replacement surgery varies from person to person and depends on many factors, including your general physical health, before surgery. For many people, much of their recovery occurs during the first two months after surgery. However, it is essential to know that full recovery continues as you get stronger and more active during the year after surgery.