Questions to Ask When Considering Hip Replacement Surgery
7 Questions To Ask Before Hip Replacement Surgery
Hip replacement is a surgical procedure where the hip joint is replaced with a prosthetic implant; it can be replaced entirely or partially. Total hip replacement, also called total hip arthroplasty (or THA), is when both the ball of the thigh bone and the socket of the pelvis are replaced. The damaged sections are removed and replaced with parts, usually made up of metal, ceramic, and very hard plastic. This artificial joint helps reduce hip pain and improves the function and mobility of the hip. About 58% of total hip replacements last around 25 years.
Total hip replacement usually occurs as a result of arthritis of the hip, a hip fracture, or a tumor. Partial hip replacement, also called hemiarthroplasty, is when only the femoral head is replaced. This option for hip replacement is usually due to an injury and not arthritis.
1. What are the Risks of Hip Replacement?
Of course, just like any surgery, there are potential risks associated with this surgery, which include but are not limited to:
Blood clots –
- these can form in the leg veins after surgery
- Infection – can occur at the site of the incision or in the deep tissue near the new hip
- Fractures – can occur to bones that are otherwise healthy in the hip
- Dislocation – usually in the few months after surgery, can be caused by certain positions of your hip as the ball comes out of the socket
- Change of leg length – can be caused sometimes by the muscle near the hip tightening too much
- Loosening of the joint – can sometimes be caused if the new joint doesn’t attach completely to the bone
- Nerve damage – rarely occurs but sometimes the nerves can be damaged during surgery
Sometimes a second hip replacement will be needed if the new hip parts wear out. This usually occurs when one has hip replacement surgery at a young age.
2. What Are The Limitations of a Total Hip Replacement?
Although it may seem like a procedure that almost anyone could qualify for, there are some limitations put in place for the safety of patients. Below are some limitations of the many out there:
- Hip replacement is not recommended for people under the age of 40
- As with any prosthetic, there is a life expectancy of the new hip and it is usually anywhere from 15 to 18 years
- There will be some loss of range of motion in the hip
- You may hear some noises, like clicking, in the hip
- There is a limit on what activities you can do. You will not be able to do high-impact activities like running or jumping
3. What Should I Do Before My Hip Replacement Surgery?
You must strengthen the muscles around your hip because this will help you after your surgery by helping you recover quicker. Some exercises you can do to help you include but are not limited to:
- thigh squeezes
- ankle pumps
- buttocks squeeze
Preparation before surgery also includes planning to have help at home when you return from surgery and make your house an easier place to recover. This may include removing anything that may trip you like loose rugs, having a seat for your shower, and installing a handle to help you get up and down from the toilet seat. All of these things will make your recovery more effective and efficient. If you need to lose weight, you should try to do so as much as possible, because the less weight you have, the easier it will be for your joints to support you.
4. What Should I Avoid Doing Before Hip Replacement?
There are certain things you should avoid before your hip replacement surgery due to the sensitive nature of the procedure; these include:
- Do not raise your knee over your hip
- While you are seated, do not pick anything up off the floor
- When you are laying in bed, do not reach down to pull the covers up
- Avoid crossing your legs at the knees
- Do not lean forward while sitting or as you sit
- When bending down, do not turn your feet inward or outward
- Do not bend at the waist more than 90 degrees
These are just some helpful tips that will reduce pain and get you prepared for a new hip. Be sure to check with your doctor about medications you will need to stop before surgery and ask your doctor what else they recommend you do or don’t do before surgery. Every patient’s situation is unique, so following your doctor’s specific guidelines is best.
5. How Can I Minimize My Pain Before Surgery?
It is important to keep moving to keep your joints in good working order. Below are some more helpful suggestions to keep your pain and stress down before surgery:
- Take time to relax and talk with others who may have had the surgery
- Always be sure to eat well
- Using heat and ice on the hip may help minimize your pain
- There are supplements you can take that may help with your pain, including Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate. Always check with your doctor before taking any supplements to be sure they won’t interfere with your surgery
6. What is the Recovery Timeline of Hip Replacement?
Recovery time for each patient is different as it is dependent upon the patient’s health, condition, and the type of surgical procedure performed. Most people can return to light activities in about 3 to 6 weeks and can get around with less pain. You will work on strengthening, stretching, and range of motion of your new hip with a physical therapist about two or three times a week. This will continue until they feel you can be on your own and can do your at-home exercises. Full recovery after hip replacement can take anywhere from 3 months to a year.
7. What is Life Like After Hip Replacement Surgery?
After surgery, most patients can return to normal activities including walking, biking, swimming, and other somewhat strenuous activities. There may be some mild stiffness, decreased range of motion, and some limitations to your activities compared to what you were able to do before surgery. You should be able to drive your vehicle within a week or so after surgery as long as you are not taking any medications that may affect this task.