A hip replacement surgery is a common type of surgery where a damaged hip joint is replaced with an artificial one (known as an implant).
Adults of any age can be considered for a hip replacement surgery, although most are done on patients between the ages of 60 and 80.
A modern artificial hip joint is designed to last for at least 15 years. Most patients have a significant reduction in pain and improvement in their range of movement.
During hip replacement surgery, a surgeon removes the damaged sections of the hip joint and replaces them with parts usually constructed of metal, ceramic and very hard plastic. This artificial joint (prosthesis) helps reduce pain and improve function.
Also called total hip arthroplasty, hip replacement surgery might be an option if hip pain interferes with daily activities and nonsurgical treatments haven’t helped or are no longer effective. Arthritis damage is the most common reason to need hip replacement surgery.
Hip replacement surgery is usually necessary when the hip joint is worn or damaged so that your mobility is reduced and you are in pain even while resting. Conditions that can damage the hip joint, sometimes making hip replacement surgery necessary, include:
The most common reason for hip replacement surgery is osteoarthritis. Other conditions that can cause hip joint damage include:
A hip replacement surgery is a major surgery, so it is usually only recommended if other treatments, such as physiotherapy or steroid injections, have not helped reduce pain or improve mobility. You may be offered hip replacement surgery if:
Risks associated with hip replacement surgery can include:
A hip replacement surgery can be done under a general anesthesia (where you’re asleep during the operation) or under a spinal anesthesia (where you’re awake but have no feeling from the waist down). Sometimes you may have an epidural, which is similar to a spinal anesthesia. The surgeon makes a cut (incision) into the hip, removes the damaged hip joint and replaces it with an artificial joint or implant. The surgery usually takes around 1 to 2 hours to complete.
Hip resurfacing is an alternative type of operation to hip replacement surgery. This involves removing the damaged surfaces of the bones inside the hip joint and replacing them with a metal surface. This type of operation removes less bone. However, it is usually only done on men who are very active and have larger hips. Resurfacing is much less popular now due to concerns about the metal surface causing damage to soft tissues around the hip.
After hip replacement surgery, you’ll be moved to a recovery area for a few hours while your anesthesia wears off. Medical staff will monitor your blood pressure, pulse, alertness, pain or comfort level, and your need for medications.
You’ll be asked to breathe deeply, cough or blow into a device to help keep fluid out of your lungs. How long you stay after hip replacement surgery depends on your individual needs. Many people can go home that same day. You’ll usually be in hospital for 3 to 5 days, but recovery time can vary.
Once you’re ready to be discharged, your hospital will give you advice about looking after your hip at home after hip replacement surgery. You’ll need to use a frame or crutches at first and a physiotherapist will teach you exercises to help strengthen your hip muscles after hip replacement surgery.
An occupational therapist will check if you need any equipment to help you manage at home. You may also be enrolled in an exercise program that’s designed to help you regain and then improve the use of your hip joint after hip replacement surgery.
It’s usually possible to return to light activities or office-based work within around 6 weeks. However, everyone recovers differently and it’s best to speak to your doctor or physiotherapist about when to return to normal activities.
Full recovery from a hip replacement surgery varies from person to person, but most people are doing well three months after the hip replacement surgery. Improvements typically continue during the first year after hip replacement surgery.
The new hip joint can reduce pain and increase the hip’s range of motion. But don’t expect to do everything you could do before the hip became painful.
High-impact activities, such as running or playing basketball, might be too stressful on the artificial joint. But in time, most people can participate in lower-impact activities — such as swimming, golfing and bicycle riding.
Daily activity and exercise can help you regain the use of your joint and muscles after hip replacement surgery. A physical therapist can recommend strengthening and mobility exercises and can help you learn how to use a walking aid, such as a walker, a cane or crutches. As therapy progresses, you’ll gradually increase the amount of weight you put on your leg until you’re able to walk without assistance.
Before you leave the hospital, you and your caregivers will get tips on caring for your new hip after hip replacement surgery. For a smooth transition:
Blood clot prevention
After hip replacement surgery, you’ll temporarily be at increased risk of blood clots in your legs. Possible measures to prevent this complication include:
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