If you’ve lived with hip pain, you know how it hurts to walk, sit or even bend. Frank R. Voss, MD, Palmetto Health-USC Orthopedic Center, said hip replacement surgery can improve quality of life for patients. “It has a dramatic effect on patients and their ability to walk and enjoy life.”
Hip replacement surgery removes damaged or diseased parts of a hip joint and replaces them
with new, man-made parts to help relieve pain, help the hip joint work better and improve walking and other movements. If you’re considering having hip replacement surgery, here are five things you should know.
1. Why do people need hip replacement surgery?
Common reasons for hip replacement surgery include damage to the hip joint from:
- Disease that causes the bone in joints to die
- Injuries or fractures
- Bone tumors that break down the hip joint
Your doctor will likely first suggest other treatments to decrease hip pain and improve function,
including walking aids (such as a cane), exercise programs, physical therapy, injections and medications. When the pain remains and daily activities are hard to do, your doctor may order an X-ray to look at the damage to the joint. If the X-ray shows damage and your hip joint hurts, you may need a hip replacement.
Healthy, active people often have very good results after hip replacement surgery. But your
doctor may not suggest this surgery if you have:
- A disease that causes severe muscle weakness
- Parkinson’s disease
- A high risk of infection
- Poor health
2. What happens during hip replacement surgery?
During hip replacement, which lasts about two hours, your doctor will:
- Give you medicine to put your whole body to sleep or do a spinal block so that you won’t feel pain.
- Make a 6- to 10-inch cut over the hip. A smaller cut may be recommended in certain cases.
- Remove the diseased tissue from the hip joint, while leaving healthy parts.
- Replace the ends of the thigh bone and hip socket with new, artificial parts.
- Move you to a recovery room for 1 to 2 hours until you are fully awake or the numbness goes away. Then you should be able to go to your room when a bed is available.
3. What can I expect after hip replacement surgery?
Right away. Usually people do not spend more than one or two days in the hospital after hip
replacement surgery. The following will happen while at the hospital:
Soon after surgery, you will:
- Breathe deeply, cough or blow into a device to check your lungs. Deep breathing helps to keep fluid out of your lungs after surgery.
- Work with a physical therapist or a nurse, who will teach you how to sit up, bend over and walk with your new hip. The therapist will also teach you simple exercises to help you get better.
Within one to two days after surgery, you should be able to sit on the edge of the bed, stand
and even walk with help.
After you go home, be sure to follow the doctor’s instructions. Tips for getting better quickly are:
- Work with a physical therapist.
- Wear an apron to carry things around the house. This leaves your hands and arms free for balance or to use crutches.
- Use a long-handled “reacher” to turn on lights or grab things you need. Your nurse at the hospital may give you one or tell you where to buy one.
Long term. You should talk to your doctor or physical therapist about an exercise program to
reduce joint pain and stiffness. To be completely well takes about three to six months, based on the type of surgery, your health and how quickly exercises help.
4. What are the risks of hip replacement surgery?
Risks of problems after hip replacement surgery are much lower than they used to be. More
common problems that could occur include:
- The ball comes out of the socket. This is the most common problem that can happen soon after hip replacement surgery. It can happen if you are in certain positions, such as pulling the knees up to the chest.
Less common problems after surgery are:
- Blood clots
- Bone growth past the normal edges of the bone
5. Life after hip replacement surgery
Your doctor may ask you not to run or jump. These can damage or loosen the
new hip joint. Many patients are able to return to golf, bowling and tennis. Talk to your doctor about exercises that won’t injure the new joint. These
exercises can include:
- Stationary bicycling
If you’ve been suffering with hip pain, we’re here to help. Schedule an appointment online at PHUSCOrthoCenter.org.