Arthritis, fractures, and other hip complications are some of the reasons that people go through a hip replacement. The conditions mentioned earlier are very painful for patients and if other treatments don’t work, hip replacement is what doctors and surgeons finally suggest. This is a procedure where the surgeons remove the painful hip and replace it with an artificial one—some are made of metals while others are plastic. It is expected to relieve hip joint pain after the operation, making one walk easier and get back to daily activities. However, there is a lot to consider before going through this procedure.
Hip replacement was first performed at around 1970s and was thought to last 10 years; but after so many years of successful operations, hip replacement was recorded to last up to 20 years. The procedure is considered safe and effective. As a matter of fact, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, more than 300, 000 hip replacements are successful in the United States each year.
During surgery, a general anesthesia or a spinal, epidural, or regional nerve block anesthesia may be given. This will depend on the anesthesia team. They will know which one best suits the patient. General anesthesia will put one in deep sleep while spinal anesthesia will make half of the body (waist down) numb so that the patient won’t feel any pain during the operation.
The doctors will make an incision along the side of the hip. They will move the muscles that connect the thigh bone to expose the damaged hip joint. After that, the ball portion of the joint is cut with a saw and replaced with an artificial hip joint. Replacement is done by removing the damaged cartilage and then attaching the replacement socket part to the hip bone.
Recovering after the Procedure
The success of the surgery will depend on how obedient the patient will be to the orthopedic surgeon. Instructions are expected to be given regarding home care during the first few weeks after the surgery.
For example, patients should avoid getting wounds wet. Basically, stitches and staples will be present on the skin up to 2 weeks. Patients are advised to keep the wound bandaged to prevent irritation from either cloth or other materials.
In regards to diet, patients can expect poor appetite after the surgery. However, a balanced diet is still necessary to have proper tissue healing and muscles strength. It is highly recommended to drink a lot of fluids.
Exercise is also vital for recovery and is most critical in home care. A patient can expect to do regular activities like sitting, standing and climbing stairs after the operation. However, there will still be some discomfort during activities and night hours for up to several weeks. Specific activities should be done every day to restore mobility and hip strength, and a patient can do this without help, but exercises are better done with the help of a physical therapist either at home or at therapy centers.
For anywhere from six to twelve months, the patient should avoid movements that would twist and pivot the involved leg. He should not bend past 90 degrees and should not try to squat, too.
If you are wondering about hip replacement complications, it is reported that the rate for infections is as low as2%. Medical complications such as heart attack and stroke are even less frequent. Chronic illness is the only source that studies suspect to increase potential complications. Although rare, when these complications occur they may prolong or limit full recovery.
Infections may occur in the wound or deep around the prosthesis. Perhaps while the patient is in the hospital, or after he goes home. It may even manifest after years. Minor infections are treated with antibiotics while deep infections may require more surgery. Removing the prosthetic may also be required.
2. Blood clots
Blood clots are a common complication of hip replacement. It is when the blood return to plasmatic (semi-solid) form that usually stocks on leg veins or pelvis. Orthopedic surgeons may outline a prevention program as blood clots are very dangerous especially if it travels through the lungs.
3. Leg-length inequality
Sometimes, after a hip operation, the legs come out unequal—that is one leg might feel shorter to the other. Surely, the orthopedic surgeon will do every effort for the patient to have equal legs, but in order to maximize the biomechanics and stability of the hip, he might shorten or lengthen the leg slightly. Some patients feel more comfortable with a shoe lift after the surgery.
Dislocation occurs when the ball comes out of the socket and the risk of it is high during the first month after surgery. According to an article, it is uncommon. If the ball comes out of the socket, a small reduction can usually put it back in the place that doesn’t require further surgery. If situations in which dislocation persist, further surgery may be needed.
4. Loosening and implant wear
Over the years, hip implant prosthetics may loosen or wear off. This is mostly due to daily activities. It may result in osteolysis, a biologic thinning of the bone. If the loose implanted prosthetic is painful, it may lead to another surgical operation called revision.
As an outcome of the surgery, the patient may feel numbness around the skin of the incision. They may also feel stiffness particularly because of excessive bending. However, this difference diminishes with time and patients find this minor compared to the pain and the limited activities they can do prior to the surgery.
Prosthetics may also be detected upon entering security with metal detectors. The patient should inform the security force about his replacement. He may also ask his orthopedic surgeon for a card confirming that he has been through such surgery and has an artificial hip.