A hip replacement or hip replacement surgery is a surgical operation to remove and replace damaged hip joint with an artificial one. There are many reasons for a person to undergo hip replacement surgery.
The most common people needing the surgery are those with osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis takes place when the cartilage covering the ends of the bones where they meet to form joints become damaged or broken. This causes the bones of the joint to rub together causing pain and stiffness.
Hip damage may be due to injuries, fracture, rheumatoid arthritis, osteonecrosis, and bone tumors. Rheumatoid arthritis is a type of arthritis wherein the body’s immune system attacks the membrane that lines the joint causing pain, inflammation, and destruction of the joint. Osteonecrosis is a medical condition wherein the blood that supplies the bone is cut off and leads to the bone’s death.
Hip Replacement Surgical Procedure—What to Expect
An orthopedic surgeon is the best person to recommend that you need the surgical procedure. Many factors will be considered by the surgeon like the occurrence and severity of pain, extent of the disability, and general health. Hip replacement is not for everyone. Those who have Parkinson’s disease and other conditions that cause severe muscle weakness should not undergo hip replacement. They will be useless because the medical conditions will only damage or dislocate the new hip. Those with high risk for infection or poor health condition are advised not to undergo the procedure as well.
Hip replacement surgery is an invasive procedure. However, with the advancement of research and technology, surgeons now use the minimally-invasive technique. The two procedures vary in the size of the cut or incision. With the traditional hip replacement surgery, the patient will be in general anesthesia. As an alternative, spinal anesthesia may be done to help prevent pain.
With standard hip replacement surgery, the surgeon will do one 8-10 inches cut along the side of the hip. In recent years where surgeons use minimally-invasive hip replacement, one or two incision of 2-5 inches long. As mentioned earlier, the two procedures only differ in the type of incisions. However, research shows that a surgeon must be highly skilled to perform minimally-invasive hip replacement surgery. Otherwise, serious outcomes may occur that may be more serious than negative outcomes usually undergone by traditional hip replacement failures. The small cuts in minimally-invasive hip replacement procedure are done to decrease blood loss, minimize pain post-surgery, reduce appearance of scar, shorten hospitalization after surgery, and speed up the healing process.
In traditional hip replacement, the anesthesiologist will prepare the patient to be in a temporary, deep sleep. The doctors will make an incision along the hip’s side and the hipbone will be exposed by moving the muscles connected to the thighbone’s topmost part. Using a saw, the ball (portion of the joint) will be removed by cutting the thighbone. A metal or plastic artificial joint will be attached to the thighbone. To keep the bone and artificial joint attached, a special material or cement is used.
On the surface of the hipbone, damaged cartilages will be removed. Then the surgeon attaches the socket part to the hipbone. The new ball and socket will be placed together. A drain will be placed to collect fluids. Muscles will be sutured and the incision closed.
After the surgery, you will be required to stay in the hospital. The length of your stay in the hospital will depend upon your physician and your participation in your healing and recovery. It is expected that after the surgical procedure, you will stay in the hospital for 4 to 6 days. You will stay in bed with a wedge-shaped cushion between your legs. This is done to keep your new hip joint in place. Your bladder will still be connected with a catheter for monitoring and until your physician will order to remove it.
Physical therapy begins a day after the surgery. In a couple of days, you can start walking again. First, you will be in an assistive device such as a walker. Then, you will be taught how to use clutches and a cane. Expect to continue therapy for weeks and months after your hip replacement surgery.
Exercises during the recovery time will depend upon your condition and your surgeon or physical therapist. Exercises are done to increase the strength and flexibility of your new hip. Exercising will also help prevent blood clots which can be harmful after surgery. MyHealth.Alberta.ca suggests you must begin your regular exercise after you had been seen by your surgeon and suggests 14 exercise routines “to help you get back to your normal everyday activities sooner”.
Hip replacement surgical procedure is the last resort for a painful and debilitating hip. Usually, the doctor will make you do some routine exercises for hip muscle strengthening. Walking aids and assistive device will be suggested to help you reduce stress and pain in your joint. Your doctor will also prescribe medicines for pain. Pain medications may include over the counter (OTC) drugs or if pain has inflammation, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are recommended. If aspirin or ibuprofen does not relieve the pain, strong pain medications are prescribed such as corticosteroids and some topical pain products. Corticosteroids may be injected to relieve severe pain.
There are some alternative procedures to replace damaged or painful hip out there, which may include stem cell treatment, hip resurfacing surgery, osteotomy, among others. Whether or not a total hip replacement surgery is necessary must be discussed with your physician or surgeon and your family members. During recovery period, a support system is vital to a speedy, complications-free recovery.