Hip Replacement Surgery symptoms, causes and treatment

There are many reasons why a person might need a hip replacement surgery. During this procedure, a surgeon will remove damaged portions of your hip and replace them with artificial parts. Usually made of metal, hard plastic, or ceramic, these prosthesis or artificial joints will lessen pain. It also improves the overall functioning of your hip

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A hip replacement surgery or a total hip arthroplasty is usually the last option for people with chronic hip pain. It is for people whose hip issues are already interfering with their daily routine, and when more-conservative treatment is no longer working to alleviate the pain. Arthritis damage is a common cause of hip of back pain.  

Why the Need for Hip Replacement Surgery

Some health conditions can lead to hip joint damage, and in severe cases, it will necessitate hip replacement process. These conditions include the following:

  • Osteoarthritis – this condition refers to the wear-and-tear type of arthritis. It damages the smooth cartilage that protects the tips of the bones. It also helps your joints maintain a smooth movement. 
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis – this condition is due to excessive activity of the immune system resulting in an inflammation. This in turn, erodes the cartilage as well as the underlying bone, which leads to damage and deformation of joints and bones. 
  • Osteonecrosis – this condition happens when there is not enough blood supply going to the joint’s ball area, resulting in the deformation and collapse of the bone.

Patients may also consider having a hip replacement surgery if you are feeling pain in your hips that:

  • Worsens when you walk despite the assistance of a walker or cane
  • Persists even when you take pain medication
  • Disturbs your sleep
  • Impacts your ability to use the stairs
  • Affects your ability to stand up from a seated position

Risks Factors of Hip Replacement Surgery

Despite being a standard option for many patients, there are still plenty of risks involved. Fortunately, almost all of the patients who have undergone the process have impressive results. 

If you are thinking of having this type of surgery, you should thoughtfully discuss it with your doctor. Make sure to have all your questions answered for you to know everything involved in the procedure. Some potential  questions you may ask involve the following risks:

  • Blood Clots – after your surgery, blood clots can develop in your veins. It can be dangerous for your health because a blood clot can travel to essential organs like your heart or lungs. Blood-thinning medicines may be prescribed to lessen this problem. 
  • Infections – this can happen anywhere near your incision, as well as in deeper tissues of the hip. Antibiotics may be prescribed for infections. On the other hand, an infection near the replacement may need surgery for the removal and replacement of the prosthesis.  
  • Dislocation – Some positions may cause a dislocation of the ball of your hip joint, especially during the first few weeks or months after your procedure. If this happens, your doctor will use a brace to support your hip and keep it in the right position. On the other hand, if a dislocation occurs more than once, new surgery might be necessary to correct the problem. 
  • Fracture – healthy areas of the hip joint may crack during your procedure. In most cases, they are minimal and eventually heal naturally. Pins, wires, or metal plate may be used to correct the significant breaches.
  • Change in the Length of Your Legs – Your doctor will ensure that this problem will not happen. But on some rare occasions, the replacement will make a leg longer or shorter. It is usually due to the contraction of muscles around the hip. Exercise and therapy is required to strengthen and stretch your muscles.
  • Loosening – although it is rare, your new hip may not become fixed solidly to your hip bone, or loosen over time. It can lead to hip pain, and require surgery to fix this.

Will You Need A Second Hip Replacement?

Through normal use, the new hip joint will soon wear out. If you had a hip replacement surgery during your younger and more active years, you would eventually need a second replacement. Fortunately, new technology, materials and implants last longer and another replacement is no longer needed. 

Hip Replacement Complications

Most hip replacements have a ball of polished metal or ceramic material that fits well into a cup liner made of hard plastic. Older versions of these prostheses have a metal cup liner. Though they last longer, they can cause several complications. Metal-on-metal prostheses can release ions into the bloodstream. It can lead to bone erosion and inflammation in the mouth. Because of this issue, metal-on-metal replacements are no longer performed. 

Preparing for a Hip Replacement Surgery

Once you’ve decided to pursue a hip replacement surgery for your condition, there are several things you need to prepare. Primarily, you have to consult with your surgeon for an orthopedic examination. You will be asked the following:

  • Your medical history and any medications that you are currently using
  • Have a general physical exam to ensure that you are fit to undergo surgery 
  • Examine your hip, your range of joint movement, and the muscle strength around your hip joint.

Blood tests, MRI and X-ray

Lab tests are part of the preoperative evaluation. The results give you a chance to speak with your doctor about the surgery. Take note of the medications that you need to avoid before the surgery.  

Things to Expect After Your Hip Replacement Surgery

Similar to other major surgery, patients who will have a hip replacement surgery will be given a general anesthetic to numb the lower half of the body. During the operation, the surgeon will make a cut over the front or side of the hip, slicing through layers of muscle. They will take out the any bone or cartilage damage leaving intact the healthy bone.

Afterward, they will put the prosthetic socket in place in the pelvic bone as a replacement to the device that was damaged. Then, they will replace the ball located at the top of the femur with the prosthetic ball. This ball connects to the stem that fits inside the thigh bone.

Hip replacement techniques are continually evolving and improving. As surgeons pursue and develop surgical procedures which are less invasive, resulting in shorter recovery time and less postoperative pain. 

After your procedure, you will be moved to recovery until your anesthesia wears out. Your pulse, blood pressure, alertness, comfort, and pain levels will be monitored after the surgery. 

Preventing Blood Clot After Your Hip Surgery

You will be advised of measures to prevent blood clotting after your surgery. 

  • Early Mobilization – patients who have undergone hip replacement surgery are encouraged to sit up and try to walk using crutches or walkers soon after the surgery. 
  • Pressure Application – during and after the procedure, patients need to wear elastic compression stockings to keep the blood from pooling in your leg veins. Using pressure application tools will also lessen the risk of blood clotting in your legs. 
  • Blood-Thinning Medications – Depending on how soon you can walk, how active you were before, or the increased risk of blood clots, blood-thinning medications may be prescribed after the surgery. Some people need more blood thinners for an extended period after surgery.   

Physical Therapy, Home Care and Follow Up

After your hip replacement surgery, you will require a physical therapist to help you with therapy and exercises in the hospital or at home for a speedy recovery. 

Keep in mind that being active and regular exercise should be a part of your daily routine to regain the use muscles and joints. The physical therapist will help you with muscle strengthening exercises and your mobility. These activities will help you walk with an aid like crutches, cane, or a walker. As you progress with your therapy, you will increase the pressure you put on your leg until you can walk unassisted.  

Likewise, you and your caregivers should learn more about how to care for your new hip before you leave the hospital. To help you recover faster, consider doing the following tips:

  • Arrange for a relative or friend to prepare your meals
  • Have everyday items placed at waist level for you to prevent bending or to reach up.
  • Make changes in your home including a raised toilet seat. 

More so, you are required to have follow-up appointments with your doctor six to twelve weeks after the procedure. They must check on you to ensure that you are healing correctly. If you are recovering well, you might be able to resume your normal activities soon. Further recovery, along with improved strength, usually happens at six months to one year. 

Post Surgery Results

Hip replacement surgery is expected to alleviate the pain you feel before the surgery and increase your joint’s range of motion. On the other hand, don’t expect to do everything that you did before you had painful hip joints. High-impact activities like basketball and running can be too much for an artificial joint. Over time, you might be able to swim, bike, or hike comfortably.