Things to know:
- Hip replacement surgery is an advanced procedure to treat hip pain, deformities of the hip joint and injuries. This procedure is usually indicated when the patient has not benefited from a medicinal approach and physical therapy.
- Hip replacement can be performed in a traditional and minimally invasive manner. The usual time taken to perform the surgery is about two hours.
- In hip arthroplasty, the damaged and diseased hip joint is removed and replaced with an artificial implant made up of ceramics, metal and hard plastic.
About hip replacement surgery
Hip replacement surgery, also known as hip arthroplasty, is a surgical procedure to repair a damaged or diseased hip joint. In this procedure, your orthopaedic surgeon removes the damaged hip joint and replaces it with an artificial joint.
Primarily, hip replacement surgery is indicated to address long-term hip pain. There are mainly two types of hip replacement:
- Top hip replacement surgery
- Partial hip replacement surgery
Hip replacement surgery usually lasts about 2-3 hours.
Anatomy of the hip
The hip is the largest and most flexible joint in your body. It is also the most free-moving joint that can move forward, backwards, sideways and even twist.
The hip joint is a ball and socket joint that connects the thigh bone (femur) of your leg to your pelvis. The head of the thigh bone is shaped like a ball in the form that fits the socket. The hip joint is supported by a range of tendons, muscles and ligaments to help keep it in place and allow proper mobility.
Why is it done?
Orthopaedic surgeons indicate hip replacement surgery as a permanent solution to a range of orthopaedic problems afflicting the hip joint. Common indications include:
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. It is a progressive condition in which the hip joint degenerates gradually with age due to regular wear and tear. Osteoarthritis of the hip can cause recurring pain, stiffness, tenderness, and limping.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease causing the inflammation of the hip joint. This condition occurs when a person’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own healthy cells. Rheumatoid arthritis can cause joint pain and swelling.
Osteonecrosis of the hip occurs when the bone tissues become dead due to a lack of proper blood supply. It can cause your bones to weaken and collapse. This condition is highly prominent in the age group of 30-60 years and is induced as a result of heavy drinking.
Injury from Hip Fracture
An accident, fall or another type of injury can cause a bone fracture in your hips. Sometimes, this condition requires hip replacement to restore the proper functioning of the hip joint. A severe hip fracture can affect your ability to walk and move as well as cause pain.
Tumour in the Hip Joint
Chondrosarcoma is the most common type of cancer affecting the hip joint. In this condition, cancer cells begin to spread and multiply at an abnormal rate leading to the growth of a mass called a tumour. Tumour like lesions can be effectively treated with hip replacement.
Developmental Hip Dysplasia
Developmental hip dysplasia is a congenital condition in which the ball and socket of the hip joint do not develop fully. This deformity can be treated with hip replacement surgery.
Who can have hip replacement surgery?
Not everyone with the above-mentioned conditions can simply seek a hip replacement. The team of orthopedic surgeons thoroughly analyses your overall health to help establish whether or not you are a good match for hip replacement surgery.
- You may be a good candidate for hip replacement surgery if:
- You have chronic hip pain that prevents you from performing everyday activities like walking
- You experience hip pain even while resting
- You have extreme stiffness in your hip joint affecting your ability to move
- Medicinal treatment options, physical therapy and walking aids have been deemed ineffective to improve your health
The following symptoms are taken into consideration while determining hip replacement surgery eligibility:
- Pain in the groin region or anterior hip
- Persistent pain while doing an activity and at rest
- Worsening pain with slight weight on the leg
- Persistent stiffness
- Complete or extreme loss of motion
- Difficulty in sleeping
Preparing for hip replacement surgery
If you are a fit candidate for hip arthroplasty, your healthcare provider and their team will help you prepare for the surgery.
Your healthcare provider will take a detailed history of your symptoms and overall health. He/she may also order certain tests and procedures to determine the damage in your hip joint. These diagnostic procedures include general health checks, CT scans, bone density tests, and X-rays.
In addition to the above tests, you will also undergo muscle testing, vascular status testing and straight leg raise.
You can expect to answer questions about your recent medication and allergies. If you are overweight, your doctor will help you achieve a healthy body weight to minimise the risk of the surgery. If you smoke, you will be asked to quit as smoking interrupts your healing process.
Your healthcare team will also counsel you about the procedure and draw realistic expectations about the outcomes. You will receive complete support to help deal with anxiety.
You will receive proper guidance about which medications to continue.
What to expect during hip replacement surgery
Hip replacement surgery can be done in a traditional and minimally invasive manner.
In a traditional, open hip replacement surgery, your surgeon makes a single and large incision on the surgical site. Through this incision, he/she accesses the damaged hip joint and replaces it with a prosthesis.
A minimally invasive hip replacement is a modern surgical method in which your surgeon makes several small incisions on your surgical site. Through one incision, he/she inserts a long, thin tube with an attached camera at one end to access the damaged hip joint. The other incision is utilised to replace and implant the new artificial joint.
Minimally invasive hip replacement has various benefits over traditional surgery, including:
- Fewer risk of complications
- Faster recovery
- Shorter hospitalization
- Lesser risk of muscle damage
On the other hand, traditional hip replacement can take longer to recover and has more risks.
About Hip Prosthesis
A hip prosthesis is an artificial implant usually made up of ceramic, metal, and hard plastics. It has two parts – a ceramic ball and a metal cup.
Recovering from hip replacement surgery
The first step of hip replacement recovery starts right after the surgery. You will be encouraged to get up and move around slowly.
After a few days, your healthcare provider will ask you to start physical therapy and rehabilitation for complete recovery. In physical therapy, you will be advised about how and when to move and manage your pain and other symptoms. You will be trained to perform certain strengthening exercises during your rehabilitation.
In order to achieve the best possible outcomes, you will be expected to take care of the surgical site and your overall health.
- Ensure to keep the surgical area clean and dry
- Take your prescribed medications timely
- Attend physical therapy and rehabilitation
- Take a proper and healthy diet
- Control swelling using ice and elevate your leg from time to time
Benefits of hip replacement surgery
Hip replacement surgery offers long-term relief and benefits to patients who have been experiencing problems associated with the hip joint. Common benefits include:
- Increased mobility
- Relief from pain and swelling
- Increased strength
- Improved coordination
- Ability to climb stairs with more comfort
Risks and complications of hip replacement surgery
Hip replacement surgery is a safe procedure. However, like any other surgery, there are certain risks and complications associated with this surgery, including:
- Blood clotting
- Loosening of the prosthesis implant
- Change in leg length
- Injury to blood vessels
After hip replacement surgery, you should avoid bending down, lifting your knees too high, crossing your legs, twisting the hip joint, rotating your feet too inward or outward and driving.
After the hip replacement surgery, your surgical team will observe your health for some time. You can expect to start the recovery process right away. You will be asked to get up and move around immediately post-surgery.
The length of your recovery depends on various factors including your age, overall health, type of surgery and type of implant used. On average, you can expect to recover from hip replacement surgery within two to four weeks.