Hip replacement surgery or arthroplasty is replacement of a painful hip joint with synthetic parts called prosthesis. A hip replacement improves mobility and reduces pain. It is usually performed when conventional treatments like medications, exercise and physical therapy have failed to reduce pain and disability.
The commonest reasons for opting for a hip replacement surgery are
- Childhood hip diseases.
- Hip joint osteoarthritis.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Tumors of any of the bones that form the joint.
Typically, the orthopedic surgeon replaces the topmost part of the thigh bone and reshapes the hip joint. He replaces the surfaces of the bones that form the joint by adding a prosthetic implant cup, ball and stem. This is easily achieved today through a minimally invasive procedure or can be performed via the traditional open surgery. Individuals between ages 50 to 80 years usually undergo this surgery, however an increasing number of younger people have sport injuries that require a hip replacement procedure.
Post-surgery patients usually take about six weeks for recovery. Recovery time varies depending upon the health status of the patient and type of hip surgery. Three months following surgery, the patient regains near-normal level of activity as prior to surgery. Faster recovery depends upon good post operative care. Rehabilitation begins immediately after surgery in the form of physical therapy.
Certain precautions are a must in order for complete recovery and successful outcome of this surgery.
- Precautions of the Hip Joint
- Avoid any kind of injury or dislocation (preventing the ball coming out of the socket joint)to the hip joint.
- Avoid bending the hip beyond 90 degrees.
- Use a pillow between your legs while lying on the bed to keep the legs apart.
- Avoid rotation of the operated leg inwards.
- Use a stick or reacher to pick up things instead of bending downwards.
- Pain – slight pain or discomfort might be experienced by you as you increase the level of activity over the weeks following surgery. Ask your doctor for a prescription of painkillers for the same.
- Wound care – the site of the wound should be kept clean and dry until the removal of the staples. The staples will be removed approximately 14 days after the surgery. Any signs of infection like fever, local pain, redness, warmth, swelling and discharge should be immediately notified to your surgeon.
- Swelling- some degree of swelling in the operated leg is common. This happens due to lack of activity and sitting on the chair for long periods of time. Usually, swelling is more during day and less in the mornings when you wake up. Severe swelling with leg pain should be reported to the physician.
- Blood thinners- to avoid blood clots in the operated leg, platelet thinners may be prescribed by your surgeon. Ensure you take them regularly.
- Physical therapy –this is perhaps the most important part of recovery post hip surgery. The aim of physical therapy is to reduce contractile formation, and improve surrounding muscle tone through controlled exercises. A qualified physical therapist will be able to guide you for the best suitable exercises for you. Patients are advised never to over strain the hip joint and stop at the first sensation of pain.
- Exercise such as abduction , pump exercise, tightening of thigh and buttocks will help to strengthen and improve muscle tone as well as improve blood circulation.
- Use of a walker, cane or crutches will be advised to improve function.
- Walking is a must during rehabilitation.
Care for special activities
- Do not drive a car for at least 6 weeks post surgery.
- Use chairs with caution while sitting down or getting out of the chair.
- Use an elevated toilet seat for a minimum of 6 weeks post surgery.
- Sexual activity can be resumed after a few weeks post surgery. Consult your doctor for the same.
- Work can be resumed after a few weeks depending upon your follow up assessment and green signal by your doctor.
You will be able to resume most activities after surgery with a little caution. However, the more active you are in your rehabilitation phase, more successful will be the outcome.