Getting Hip to Joint Replacement

What you should know about hip replacement.

Arthritis can wreck havoc on your hips, making simple everyday movements like walking or bending painful. When pain medications, exercise, physical therapy, and a cane fail to provide relief, hip replacement surgery may be what you need.

Hip replacement surgery, or total hip arthroplasty, removes your diseased or injured hip joint and replaces it with an artificial joint. The prosthesis is made of a ceramic or metal ball with a socket lined with ceramic, plastic, or metal.

Surgery and rehabilitation therapy will lead to a fantastic amount of pain relief and restore your prior range of motion. Following years of pain and suffering, hip replacement makes it possible to move without pain.

Who is a candidate for hip replacement surgery, what’s involved during and after the procedure, and what are there risks? Getting answers to these important questions before undergoing hip replacement gives you the confidence needed to make the most of your procedure.

Why It’s Done

Hip replacement surgery may be necessary for those who suffer from medical conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, a bone tumor, a broken hip resulting from a fall or injury, or osteonecrosis (a lack of blood to the ball of the hip).

Those who suffer from ongoing pain despite medication, pain worsened by walking, pain that disrupts sleep, difficulty standing from a seated position, trouble walking up or down stairs, or pain that keeps you from enjoying normal activities are all candidates for hip replacement surgery.

How It’s Done

Warning: If you’ve got a queasy stomach, you may need to skip this part. If not, here we go.

During hip replacement surgery, you will be given general anesthesia. Then your surgeon will make an incision (standard size is 8 to 10 inches) down the side of your hip, through your tissues. Your surgeon will then remove the diseased bone and cartilage and leave any healthy bone intact. The prosthetic socket is then implanted into the pelvic bone, and the prosthetic ball is attached to a stem in your thighbone. Muscles are reattached to the bone and your incision is closed up. Thanks to improvements in orthopedic surgery, you will likely stay in the hospital for a meager four to six days.

Potential Concerns

Hip replacement surgery is a relatively safe surgery, boasting an amazing 90-percent success rate. But as with any surgery, there is a certain amount of risk involved. The most common risks of hip replacement are blood clots, infection, bleeding, fracture of healthy joint parts during surgery, and risks associated with general anesthesia.

Though rare, other concerns may arise following surgery. Your legs may not be equally long because of the procedure. Additionally, you must avoid crossing your legs or sitting down too low, as these movements can dislocate the new joint. Nerves in your hip area may also become damaged and cause numbness, and your joints may stiffen, making movement difficult. In some cases, the prosthesis becomes loose, breaks, or eventually wears out, requiring a second surgery.

Since the first hip replacement was performed during the 1970s, many improvements have been made to prostheses as well as to the surgical technique. They’ve gotten so much better that you can expect hip joint implants to last at least 20 years. If you require this surgery early in life, you will most likely need another in your lifetime.

Pain Free Again

While you may never run a marathon or play basketball after hip replacement, you may be able to ride a bike, swim, play golf, and walk comfortably. And this is good news if your life has been on hold because of pain.

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