Hip replacement surgery is common for those over the age of 60, but it can still be an anxious experience if you’re waiting to go in for it. To help make the build up to a hip replacement a little less intimidating we’ve put together rundown of what you might expect during the process of diagnosis, treatment, and recovery. Of course, the best place to get information about your specific case is your doctor, but this may help paint an outline of the picture.
Why a Hip Replacement May Be Necessary
The signs that a hip replacement may be necessary are reduced mobility and pain in the hip joint. The most common reason for this to originate and result in a replacement is due to osteoarthritis. In addition to the pain and stiffness this condition causes it can also result in further symptoms. These can be; swelling, tenderness, or noise when the joint moves. The severity and consistency of these symptoms can vary from person to person.
Other reasons for a hip replacement are:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Hip fracture
- Septic arthritis
- Ankylosis spondylitis
- Bone deformities such as bone dysplasia.
Your specific condition will be explained to you by your doctor and the appropriate treatment laid out.
What Does the Surgery Entail?
Hip replacement surgery can be performed in more than one way. In terms of numbing the hip area it can be done by general anaesthetic, where you are asleep, or by epidural, which only numbs the specified area. Once anaesthetised there are two methods of surgery:
The most common method of hip surgery involves making an incision, removing the entirety of the damaged joint, and then replacing it with an artificial joint made from either; metal, alloy, or possibly ceramic. This is not a long surgery and takes around an hour to and hour and half to complete.
The other method of hip surgery is known as hip resurfacing. Rather than removing the entirety of the joint only the damaged section of bone is removed and then replaced with a metal surface. This method is less invasive overall, but it has fallen out of favour in many cases as there is some concern the metal surface can damage soft tissue. Additionally, less patients are suitable for this method due to potentially weaker bones, such as those in over 65s and post-menopausal women.
Recovering from hip replacement is demanding, but will result in a stronger, more mobile joint. You may be given an exercise regime to do to help recovery and strength. Additionally, your doctor will monitor your progress to make sure everything is progressing well.
The early stages will require the use of a walking aid such as crutches or a walking frame. This will take the weight off the joint while it is settling into place and you heal. Even after ditching the walking aid you may still find you are limited in your movement, but this will improve. You will regain a mostly normal level of movement after two or three months, but total recovery can take a year.