Hip Replacement

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One of the most common types of orthopedic surgeries includes the correction of degenerated or diseased joints with artificial joint replacements. For both mid-aged and older patients, their hip joints can become damaged by degenerative joint diseases like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, past injuries, or being worn down from old age. Patients find that their damaged hip joints can cause significant pain, loss of wellbeing and activities, and trouble walking. With hip arthroplasty, or hip replacement surgery, damaged hip joints are replaced by cutting away the bone and cartilage and attaching an artificial joint made with plastic and metal or ceramic. Following surgery, patients recover with physical therapy and experience relieved pain and restored range of motion and function in their hips.

Who are Good Candidates?

If patients have tried other methods of reliving pain and restoring range of motion and have failed, only then is hip replacement recommended by orthopedic surgeons. Patients usually try losing weight, physical therapy, or using a cane or walker, but have found that these methods generally do not improve their physical wellbeing or hip pain.

Ideal candidates for hip replacement surgery suffer from their degenerated hip to the point where it has significantly compromised their health, happiness, and wellbeing. Everyday activities such as walking, climbing stairs, elevating their legs, or sitting up may be limited. Patients may also have trouble sleeping due to pain and often have persistent pain throughout the day. Pain and loss of movement can be caused by one or more of the following: old age, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, previous hip injuries, or a tumor.

Patients should be at a stable weight, have good blood flow, and do not have infections in or around their hips. Patients should also have already, or be willing to, establish a physical therapy program to further advance their recovery. Lastly, patients should maintain a positive outcome for their wellbeing.

The Surgical Procedure

Patients generally are put under general anesthesia while the hip replacement surgery is performed. The surgeon will make an incision approximately 8 to 10 inches along the side of the hip being replaced, and then lift the muscles away from the joint. Once the joint is exposed, the surgeon will remove damaged bone and cartilage and start to attach the artificial joint. The prosthetic socket, made from either metal or ceramic, is attached to the patient’s pelvic bone, and the prosthetic ball is attached to a stem that fits into the thighbone. Once the artificial joint is attached, the surgeon will check the patient’s range of motion, and once satisfied, the incision will be closed. The entire procedure is performed within 2 to 4 hours, depending on joint damage.

Recovery and Aftercare

After the surgery, patients are usually up the next day, and stay around 4 to 6 days in the hospital. Recovery is coupled with physical therapy, and an ongoing physical therapy plan is established once the patient returns home. The physical therapy usually lasts 1 to 3 months, but patients are advised to be careful of their range of motion for up to 12 months after surgery. Full recovery after surgery is about 6 to 8 weeks after the procedure, and patients can return to activities, but with careful attention to not hyper-extend their joint. The hip replacement can be made from either metal or ceramic and high-grade plastic, and usually last about 10 to 20 years.

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Procedure Details