Hip Replacement: Your Dancing Shoes Beckon Again

hip replacement

Do You Need It?

Once considered high-tech, hip replacements are now common.  Hip replacement can be either partial or total.  So, how do you decide whether a hip replacement is the right way to go for you? If your hip pain and loss of function is so severe that medicines and other treatments no longer relieve pain, then perhaps it is time for a hip replacement. Your doctor will use X-rays to evaluate your situation and also make sure that the pain is not coming from somewhere else. Total hip replacement may not be recommended if you are severely overweight, have osteoporosis, are at high risk of infection, have a history of heart attack or stroke, or if you have uncontrolled diabetes.

Ask Your Doctor

If you have arthritis of the hip and are considering hip replacement, definitely ask your doctor:

  • Which type of hip replacement (either partial or total) is the best choice for me? Are there other more conservative treatment modalities which could work?
  • If I don’t get surgery, what is the risk? Is there any harm in waiting?
  • What are the downsides of hip replacement?
  • What type of replacement hip would you recommend?
  • Would minimally invasive surgery be possible for me?
  • How long would recovery take?  Get specifics. When will I be able to be back on your feet? When will I be able to exercise or go back to work again? When will I be able to be drive?
  • What kind of anaesthesia would I need?
  • What kind of physical therapy would I need?
  • What should I expect from life with a hip replacement?

Get realistic expectations about what you will be able to do after you recover.  You can also ask about ways you can try to minimize wear and tear.

Risks

Hip replacements carry the same risks as other major surgeries.  This includes the risk of dangerous infections or blood clots.  People with heart conditions, poorly controlled diabetes, or weak immune systems are the most vulnerable.   The other major risk is that the new joint may not work as well as hoped.  Weakness and stiffness are common problems.   Less common problems include an implant that becomes loose or dislocates.  The implant could wear out after about 20 years, which means you may need another joint replacement down the road.

Hip Replacement Surgery

Partial hip replacement surgery is a procedure that replaces the diseased head of the femur with an artificial ball joint to restore mobility and relieve hip pain.  Partial hip replacement surgery typically takes a few hours, and patients need to stay at the hospital only for a few days.  The most common form of partial hip replacement is called a bipolar prosthesis, which is often recommended as an intermediate step before total hip replacement.

Total hip replacement involves surgery to replace the ends of both bones in a damaged joint to create new joint surfaces. Total hip replacement surgery uses metal, ceramic, or plastic parts to replace the ball at the upper end of the thighbone (femur) and resurface the hip socket in the pelvic bone.  This surgery replaces damaged cartilage with new joint material in a step-by-step process.  Doctors may attach replacement joints to the bones with or without cement.  Uncemented joints are attached using a porous coating that is designed to allow the bone to adhere to the artificial joint.  Over time, new bone grows and fills up the openings in the porous coating, attaching the joint to the bone.  Doctors often use general anesthesia for joint replacement surgeries, but regional anesthesia is also used sometimes.

Advances in Hip Replacement

  • A newer technique for hip replacement is hip resurfacing, most commonly performed in younger patients. The acetabulum (socket) is replaced with an artificial piece, but the femur remains intact. The femur is covered, or “resurfaced,” with a durable component.
  • Some doctors are doing hip replacement surgery through smaller incisions. This is called minimally invasive surgery. It may mean less blood loss and a smaller scar, but it can also mean a longer time in surgery because the surgery is harder to do.
  • Another new technique is the anterior approach for hip replacement surgery, which allows doctors to spare the patient’s muscle tissues around the hip, providing less pain, faster recovery, and improved mobility.

 

Recovery

In general, most people get out of bed with help on the day of surgery or the next day. Over the next few days, you will learn how to walk with a walker or crutches.  Here are a few precautions to keep your new hip from dislocating:

  • Avoid combinations of movement with your new hip. For example, do not sit with your legs crossed because in that position you both bend your hip and bring your hip across your body.
  • Do not sit on low chairs, beds, or toilets.
  • Do not raise your knee higher than your hip.
  • Do not lean forward while you are sitting down or as you sit down or stand up.
  • Do not bend over more than 90 degrees. This means you cannot bend down to tie your shoes for a while.

You may need to use a walker or crutches for several weeks after surgery until you can bear your full weight, have less pain, and can safely move around without falling.  You should also take a short walk several times each day. If you notice any soreness, try a cold pack on your hip and perhaps decrease your activity a bit, but don’t stop completely. Staying with your walking and exercise program will help speed your recovery.

 

Living With a Hip Replacement

Your doctor will probably want to see you at least once every year to monitor your hip replacement. Gradually, you will return to most of your pre-surgery activities. Controlling your weight will help your new hip joint last longer.  Stay active to help keep your strength, flexibility, and endurance. Strenuous activities, such as jogging or tennis, are not advised after a hip replacement.

We’re Here to Help

And remember, that we, at Medi Assist, are here to make your hospitalization experience as hassle-free as possible by assuring you a completely cashless hospitalization. Just concentrate on recovering quickly and getting back home to be among your loved ones; and leave all your insurance claims-related worries to us.

Wish you a speedy recovery!

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