Learning About Hip Replacement Surgery

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What is hip replacement surgery?

During hip replacement surgery, your doctor replaces the worn parts of your hip joint with artificial parts made of metal, ceramic, or plastic.

You may want this surgery if you have hip pain and trouble moving that you can't treat in other ways.

Osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis can cause these types of problems. And so can bone loss caused by a poor blood supply.

How is hip replacement surgery done?

In open hip replacement surgery, your doctor makes a 15 to 25 centimetre cut (incision) on the side of your hip. You will be asleep during the surgery. Your doctor will then:

  • Remove the worn bone tissue and cartilage from the hip joint.
  • Replace the ball at the upper end of your thigh bone (femur).
  • Replace your hip socket with a shell and liner.
  • Fit the ball into the shell and liner to make a new hip joint.

Hip replacement can also be done with one or two smaller incisions. This is called minimally invasive surgery.

The incisions in both types of surgery leave scars that usually fade with time.

Surgery may take 1 to 3 hours.

There are two kinds of replacement joints.

  • Cemented joints. The cement fits between the new joint and the bone.
  • Uncemented joints. These have a metal coating with many small openings. The bone is shaped to fit the new joint almost perfectly. But there are some small spaces. Over time, the bone grows to fill these small openings.

Sometimes, the doctor uses a cemented ball and an uncemented socket.

Talk to your doctor about the best type of new hip joint for you.

What can you expect after hip replacement surgery?

You will stay in the hospital for a few days after surgery. Your rehabilitation program (rehab) will start at this time. When you go home, you will be able to move around with crutches or a walker. But you will need someone to help you at home for the next few weeks until your energy returns and you can move around better. If there is no one to help you at home, you may go to a rehab centre or an extended care centre after you leave the hospital.

After your surgery, you may have much less pain than before. You may have a better quality of life.

Some doctors say you may feel better sooner if you have minimally invasive surgery. Experts do not yet know how the risks and benefits of this type of surgery compare to an open surgery.

  • You will slowly return to most of your activities.
    • You will probably stay in the hospital for 2 to 7 days after surgery.
    • You may need physiotherapy for 6 months or more.
    • You may be able to walk on your own in 4 to 6 weeks. Before this, you will need crutches or a walker.
    • Ask your doctor when you can drive again.
    • You may be able to return to work in 4 weeks to 4 months. It depends on your job.
    • Your doctor will tell you when you can swim, dance, golf, or bicycle. Ask your doctor about other activities you would like to do.
    • Your doctor may tell you to avoid some activities. These may include running, tennis, horseback riding, or skiing.
    • For most people it is safe to have sex about 4 to 6 weeks after the surgery.
  • You may have to take antibiotics before dental work or other medical procedures. This will help prevent infection around your new hip.

You will be in a rehab program. Rehab helps you get better faster.

  • Your rehab may start before surgery. Rehab exercises can help get the hip ready for surgery. And they can make your recovery faster.
  • After surgery, your physiotherapist will get you started and teach you exercises. Then you will do them on your own.
  • Rehab often lasts 6 months or more. It is not easy, and it takes time. Many people say that it is like "having a second job."

If you commit to your rehab and work hard, you will see a lot of improvement in a few months.

Most artificial hip joints last for 10 to 20 years or longer. It depends on your age, how much stress you put on the joint, and how well your new joint and bones mend. Your weight can make a difference. Every extra kilogram of body weight adds 3 kilograms of stress to your new hip joint. More weight may cause it to wear out sooner.

Your doctor may want to see you about once a year to see how you and your new hip are doing.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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