Everything You Need To Know About Hip Replacement Surgery
Approximately 370,000 total hip replacements are performed in the US each year. A hip replacement is a surgery where a manmade implant replaces your total hip, or parts of it. Many adults decide to get a hip replacement after trying other remedies like using a cane, losing weight, and physical therapy. A hip replacement can be necessary for those who experience osteoarthritis, inflammatory arthritis, like rheumatoid arthritis, an injury like a fractured hip during a fall, or an injury that never healed properly.
The Anatomy of the Hip
The hip consists of a ball and socket joint that connects the thigh bone to the pelvis. The thigh bone is designed with a “head” on top that is shaped like a ball that fits into the socket. Ligaments, tendons, and muscles around the joint help support it and keep it in place. The hip is the most flexible joint in the body because it can move backwards, forwards, to the side, and twist.
Some people experience uncomfortability in their daily life that leads them to consider a hip replacement:
- Pain in the anterior hip, groin, or buttock
- Pain during activity and at rest
- Increased pain when weight is put on a specific leg
- Stiff or tight hip
- Decreased motion
- Difficulty sleeping, walking, or putting on shoes
Types of Hip Replacements
1. Total Hip Replacement
The most common type of hip replacements, surgeons perform a total hip replacement by making a 6- to 10-inch incision and are able to have a clear view of the hip joint during operation. This reliable and time-tested surgical technique can help the surgeon find the ideal fit to increase the chances for pain relief and improved function. Plus, the likelihood of complications after surgery is reduced. During this replacement, the amount of tissue required to be cut can cause a slower recovery time.
The best candidates:
- Healthy enough to undergo major surgery
- Subject to less stringent weight requirements
- May have mild to moderate osteoporosis
2. Partial Hip Replacement
Only the head of the thigh bone is replaced; this replacement is typical for people with certain types of hip fractures.
3. Minimally Invasive Hip Replacement
While not as common, minimally invasive hip replacements are performed with a single 3- to 6-inch incision or two smaller incisions.The advantages of a minimally invasive hip replacement are suggested in the name: a smaller scar, less damage to tissue, and a faster recovery. However, this type of hip replacement offers disadvantages like a limited view of the joint, making it more difficult for the surgeon to find the ideal fit and skin and tissue may be stretched or torn during surgery. Despite the drawbacks, most minimally invasive hip replacements are successful.
The best candidates:
- Healthy enough to undergo major surgery
- Relatively thin
- No bone or joint deformities
- No previous hip surgery
- No osteoporosis
Benefits of a Hip Replacement
The most common reason for someone to get a hip replacement is to receive pain relief, but they also typically experience improved movement, strength, and coordination. Plus, after receiving a hip replacement, patients are able to walk, climb stairs, and enjoy an active lifestyle more comfortably.
Preparing for a Hip Replacement
Doctors will perform a series of tests to ensure the risks of a hip replacement doesn’t outweigh its benefits. They will want to check your activity level and weight and how well your body can handle blood loss, anesthesia, and rehabilitation. Some tests you can expect are:
- Muscle: Checking the strength of the hip flexors, extensors, abductors and adductors.
- Nerve and Vascular Status: Your sciatic and perineal nerve function, sensory, and arterial pulses will be tested and your doctor will check to see if you have any severe vascular disease.
- Palpation: Doctors may use palpation, a method of feeling with the fingers or hands during a physical examination, to confirm the hip joint is the cause of your pain.
- Range of Motion: Doctors will look at how easily you can flex, extend, and rotate your hip.
What to Expect During Recovery
Immediately after surgery, doctors don’t waste any time! Rehab and physical therapy are started quickly and continued during your hospital stay and for a year afterward. While many people are eager to get home, your doctor may recommend you start your recovery at a rehab center where you can spend significant time with a physical therapist and occupational therapist. There you’ll learn how to regain your strength and exercises and precautions to take when you get home. People spend between 5 to 14 days at a rehab facility before being discharged to go home.
How Long Does it Take to Recover?
The timeframe for a hip replacement recovery varies depending on the type of surgery you get plus the strength of your bones and muscles and your overall health and lifestyle. Rehabilitation is also a significant part of recovery and can influence if you’ll be back to normal within several weeks or several months.. The more serious and committed you are to performing your exercises, the more likely you’ll have a speedy recovery. Most patients are asked to perform exercises for 20 to 30 minutes, 2 to 3 times a day. The exercises aim to stretch and strengthen the muscles around your hip joint so that you can easily climb stairs, bend and walk.
Tips for a Speedy Recovery
There are many easy ways to help make your recovery easier and faster.
- Quit Smoking: Nicotine can increase your risks during surgery and delay recovery.
- Manage Your Weight
- Remove Hazards: Store loose rugs and tape down any electrical cords that could cause you to trip.
- Reorganize Your Food: Make sure the food and supplies you need to access are at waist or shoulder level.
- Sleep on the Main Floor if Possible
- Prepare Special Equipment: Elevated toilet seats, shower seats, handrails, and a device to help you put on shoes can make a major difference.
- Support Your Joints: Arthro-7, which has been sold more than 8 million times, is formulated with collagen, MSM, vitamin C, CMO, bromelain, lipase, and turmeric to help support normal joint function. Arthro8 is made with the same 7 key ingredients as Arthro-7 plus the addition of hyaluronic acid, which can help encourage normal inflammation responses.
- Cleveland Clinic. “Hip Replacement (Hip Arthroplasty).” 2021.
- Sporer, Scott MD. “Minimally Invasive Hip Replacement vs. Traditional Hip Replacement.” Arthritis Health. 2020.