Reclaiming Your Mobility: 5 Common Questions about Hip Replacement

March 5th, 2020

Dealing with hip pain doesn’t have to be a life sentence. With today’s technology and surgical techniques, patients with hip arthritis or other injuries can face their symptoms and get started on the road to relief. A hip replacement surgery is a straight-forward procedure that’s very common in those experiencing arthritis. A surgeon removes the infected hip (partial or full) and replaces it with an artificial joint. 

As the patient heals and goes through physical therapy, they’ll one day regain function and no longer experience pain.

Surgery can be nerve-wracking but staying informed and learning what you can expect will help put you at ease. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions to help you understand more about the surgery and recovery following.

What are some common reasons for hip replacement?

Life with hip pain can drastically reduce your quality of life. We rely on the hip bone for so much, counting on it to support the weight of our body and help us stand and walk. But if the hip joint is infected or damaged, it’s no longer serving its purpose. And the result is not only debilitating pain, but frustration and hopelessness. If you’re experiencing any of the issues below, you may need a hip replacement. 

Hip Fracture: A break in the upper area of the thigh bone is referred to as a hip fracture. This type of break can occur due to a fall or a direct impact. Osteoporosis can also cause hip fractures. In addition, if you’ve experienced a hip fracture in the past, you’re at greater risk of experiencing a fracture in the hip again. 

Severe Arthritis: A dull, aching pain in the groin, buttocks or upper outer leg can mean that you’re suffering from arthritis in your hip. The arthritis can be minor or severe. You may need a hip replacement depending on how much the arthritis has affected in the hip joint. This surgery could be the best option to relieve your pain and allow you to live a healthy, active life. 

Repetitive Wear and Tear Degeneration:  The hip bones become worn over time as they rub against each other within the joint. This can cause a form of arthritis resulting in pain and long-lasting damage to the hip bone. Replacing the damaged joint with an artificial one will restore function to the hip and reduce pain.

Speak with your doctor if you’re dealing with any of the symptoms or injuries listed above. 

What can I do to prepare for surgery?

Preparedness is half the battle when it comes to surgery and a hip replacement is no exception. There are endless ways you can prepare for your surgery - some more crucial than others. Find out what’s most important to get set before your surgery so you can recover more peacefully.

Physical Exam: Your healthcare provider will take a detailed account of your medical history and some may want to perform a physical exam as well. It’s crucial that you’re in good health when going in for your hip replacement to ensure your body can handle the procedure and you’ll be able to recover properly. Explain all the medications you’re currently taking to your doctor and let them know of any illness or pain you’re experiencing beforehand. 

Quit Smoking: A study in the The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery (Feb 15)  published by Wolters Kluwer found that current smokers had a significantly higher rate of septic reoperation compared with nonsmokers. Tobacco and nicotine use are known to impair the body’s ability to heal and recover following surgery. Quitting smoking before a knee or hip replacement may lower the risk for complications during surgery.

Conditioning Exercises: Your doctor will sometimes instruct you to perform conditioning exercises in order to strengthen the muscles surrounding your hip. This may help you recovery go more smoothly as you will have strong muscles to take the work off of the hip joint as it heals from surgery.

Prep Your Home: You’ll be immobile for the first week or so following the surgery, so it’s important to prep your home beforehand so you have everything you need readily available. Arrange for a friend or family member to stay with you immediately after to help you. Stock meals, beverages and entertainment to keep you occupied while you heal. 

What is recovery like?

Hip replacement is a common surgery, and while invasive, may not take as long as you expect to recover from. You’ll experience pain mainly in the couple days to follow which can be managed by medication. After the first few days, your pain will begin to dissipate into discomfort. Your doctor will determine what type of medication to prescribe based on your medical history and current health status to choose what’s best for you.

Your incision will be closed by either staples or sutures. You’ll return to the surgeon in 2-4 weeks to have these removed. Your doctor will perform a wellness check to ensure the hip replacement is healing properly. 

Your doctor will also give you specific instructions on when you can start moving around. It varies from person to person but you may find that you are able to be active sooner than you expected. Activity is beneficial for your body and your hip replacement. Your body becomes used to the artificial joint. However, it is important that you don’t rush into anything before you’re ready. You’ll be able to walk in the week after the surgery but be sure to rely on a walker or cane to avoid putting your full body weight on your hip. 

Choosing a Surgeon

An experienced, knowledgeable surgeon that you trust can make all the difference throughout the hip replacement process. 

At Rothman Orthopaedic Institute, we understand that it’s a big decision to go through with surgery. We work with thousands of patients every year to offer quality care and expertise needed to address patients’ hip problems. When you decided to have your hip surgery done by a Rothman physician, you’re getting the following benefits:

  • Access to a specialist in the field of hip procedures

  • The latest in diagnostic tools and surgical techniques

  • An unequaled commitment to research

  • The confidence that comes with proven, positive outcomes

  • High quality, comprehensive care that you deserve

Visit our hip specialty page for more information on arthritis, hip pain, and hip replacement surgery. 

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