Experiencing chronic joint pain and hip discomfort? It may be time to consider orthopedic hip replacement surgery.
As a ball-and-socket joint, the hip is designed to offer a full range of motion. If it is damaged, however, chronic joint pain can be devastating and hinder your everyday activities.
Total hip replacement surgery (THR) seeks to address this by replacing your natural ball and socket of the hip bone with a prosthetic joint. Hip replacements fall into two categories: traditional or minimally invasive. Both involve replacement of the joint with the prosthetic and are performed under general anesthesia.
In traditional hip replacement surgery, your surgeon will make a ten to twelve-inch incision through the muscles surrounding the hip to fully expose the joint. Then, your surgeon will remove the damaged joint and put a prosthetic in place.
Minimally invasive surgery involves smaller incisions, but is otherwise quite similar. Due to smaller incisions, patients can often experience a reduced recovery time. However, this type of surgery has been linked to a higher rate of complications.
Who is a candidate?
Candidates for THR typically suffer from arthritis that has led to the degeneration of the hip joints, reducing patients’ quality of life. THR should be considered as a last resort for improving quality of life and reducing joint pain. It is typically performed in patients over 55 years old.
Who is not a candidate?
Patients who suffer from an active hip infection, are obese, or have weight-related issues such as diabetes may not be good candidates for THR. Chronic hip pain from infection or from obesity-related issues should be addressed before pursuing THR.
Like other surgeries, THR requires certain general surgery protocol such as preoperative blood testing and the use of prophylactic antibiotic medications. Additionally, patients must stop smoking and using any pain relievers or anti-inflammatory drugs (blood thinners) one week prior to surgery. You will likely be asked to stop eating or drinking the night before the surgery.
Your home should be modified to be more comfortable and ensure a safe and rapid recovery. It is a good idea to move your bed to the first floor and to get rid of hazards such as loose rugs.
A 3-4 day hospital stay is usually required. You will be prescribed pain medication to manage post-surgery pain. The incision site will be closed with staples, which will be removed 2 weeks after surgery. You will need to prepare for the longer-term recovery process at home. It is wise to hire at-home care help or enlist the help of family or friends in the first few weeks after the surgery.
Performing light activity will be essential to the recovery process, but if necessary, a walker or cane should be used. Full hip movement should be regained after about 6 weeks.
Physical therapy will help you adjust to the new prosthetic. About 6 months after the procedure, you should be able to walk without a limp. A year of physical therapy will help you adjust fully to the new hip replacement.
As with any surgery, there are risks of complications related to infection or adverse reactions to anesthesia. Other known complications include blood clots, fracture of the femur or thigh bone, dislocation, and change in leg length. Although the prosthetic joint used typically lasts 10-25 years, they do eventually wear out. As a result, there is a risk of revision surgery.
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