Hip replacement surgery is a major procedure that can offer life-changing results for many patients. In his latest online article, leading consultant orthopaedic surgeon Mr Andrew Gordon explains this procedure in detail. He answers common questions patients may have, including a detailed explanation of what the procedure entails, and how long it takes to recover from the surgery.
When might someone consider a hip replacement?
A hip replacement is considered when a person experiences severe hip pain and disability that significantly impacts their daily life, and other non-surgical treatments have not provided sufficient relief. The decision is made in consultation with an orthopaedic surgeon who considers factors such as chronic pain, reduced mobility, joint damage, functional limitations, and failed non-surgical treatments. Ultimately, the goal is to improve the quality of life and restore mobility for individuals who have not found relief from other treatment options.
What does a hip replacement procedure entail?
A hip replacement, also known as hip arthroplasty, involves removing the damaged or diseased parts of the hip joint and replacing them with artificial components. The surgery is typically performed under general anaesthesia and involves several steps:
- An incision is made to access the hip joint.
- The damaged parts of the femur (thigh bone) and acetabulum (hip socket) are removed.
- Artificial components, including a metal stem with a ball for the femur and a socket with a liner for the acetabulum, are inserted.
- The incision is closed, and the patient undergoes recovery and rehabilitation.
What is the recovery and rehabilitation period like?
The recovery and rehabilitation period after a hip replacement surgery can vary from person to person. Here's a general overview of what to expect:
- Hospital Stay: Most patients stay in the hospital for a few days after surgery. During this time, you will be closely monitored for any complications, and pain medication will be provided as needed.
- Mobility: Shortly after surgery, you will be encouraged to start moving and bearing weight on the new hip with the help of crutches, a walker, or a cane. Physical therapy will play a crucial role in regaining strength, balance, and mobility.
- Rehabilitation: Physical therapy exercises will be tailored to your specific needs and will focus on strengthening the hip muscles, improving range of motion, and retraining walking patterns. Therapy sessions may continue for several weeks or months, both in the hospital and on an outpatient basis.
- Pain Management: Pain and discomfort are common after surgery, but medication will be prescribed to manage it effectively. As you recover, the need for pain medication will gradually decrease.
- Home Care: You will receive instructions on wound care, medication management, and precautions to take at home to promote healing and prevent complications. It's important to follow these instructions carefully.
- Return to Normal Activities: The timeline for returning to normal activities will vary. Most people can resume light activities such as driving within a few weeks, but it may take several months to regain full strength and mobility. Your surgeon and physical therapist will guide you on when it's safe to engage in specific activities.
What must I avoid after a hip replacement?
After a hip replacement surgery, it is important to avoid certain activities and movements to protect your new hip joint and promote proper healing. Here are some common precautions and activities to avoid:
- Avoid excessive weight-bearing, impact, and high-impact sports.
- Prevent hip dislocation by avoiding crossing legs, excessive bending, and twisting.
- Be cautious with sitting and standing, using proper technique and support.
- Avoid positions that strain the hip joint, such as sitting cross-legged or lying on the operated side.
- Steer clear of activities that involve high-impact or jarring motions.