Hip replacement is a surgical procedure that removes damaged parts of the hip joint and replaces it with artificial parts. This treatment option is usually considered after all other treatment options have failed to provide pain relief. The extent as to how much of the hip joint is replaced with artificial parts will depend on the severity of the damaged joint.
Hip replacement is recommended for severe osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or ankylosing spondylitis. Hip surgery may be also required for fractures of the hip secondary to osteoporosis. Depending on the cause of the damage, the surgeon will assess the extent of the damage and recommend the best treatment option possible. Possible non-surgical treatments include the use of painkillers, steroid injections, walking aids, or physiotherapy. Total hip arthroplasty, (also known as hip replacement surgery) is usually recommended if the hip pain already interferes with the patient’s daily activities and conventional treatments have not worked. In the majority of the cases, arthritis damage is the most common reason for hip replacement.
Conditions that might require hip replacement surgery:
- Osteonecrosis – Inadequate blood supply to the ball portion of the hip joint, resulting in deformity and breakdown.
- Rheumatoid arthritis – Inflammation in the joints is often attributed to an overactive immune system and result in painful deformity.
- Osteoarthritis – Also called wear-and-tear arthritis, refers to the breakdown of joint cartilage and results in pain, stiffness and swelling.
Patients are advised to observe some precautions for the first 6 weeks after surgery.
As there is an increased risk of blood clots developing in the legs after surgery, the following measures are observed to prevent complications:
- Pressure application – During and after surgery, inflatable air sleeves or elastic compression stockings will be worn on the lower leg. The pressure will prevent the blood from pooling in the leg veins, minimizing the chance of blood clots from forming
- Early mobilization – Patients are encouraged to try walking using a walker or crutches soon after the operation
- Blood-thinning medications – The surgeon may prescribe an oral blood thinner right after the surgery to reduce likely blood clot formations from developing
Early intervention of physical therapy is encouraged to help speed up recovery. The physical therapist will teach patients some strengthening and mobility exercises to help regain the use of their muscles and joints. These exercises should also be done at home.
A follow-up appointment is usually scheduled about six to eight weeks later to assess if the hip is healing properly. If there are no complications, patients can resume their day-to-day routines. In most cases, full recovery and improved strength occur after 6 to 12 months.