Understanding the hip bones
The hip, like the knee and shoulder, works like a ball and socket joint. The femoral head at the top of the leg fits into the acetabulum of the pelvic bone. One or both bones can degrade due to arthritis. Men and women over age 60 often experience arthritis. In some cases, a fall or accident can cause damage to the bones. Whether for arthritis or injury, a total hip replacement arthroplasty can reduce pain and restore motion. For the procedure to work, a surgeon must replace one or both bones with prosthetics. Hip replacement sounds complicated. But make sure to ask these 3 questions before going through with the procedure.
1. How safe is a total hip replacement?
Surgery can be a sensitive subject for some patients. Rest assured, the procedure is safe, effective, and can even be done with minimal incisions. To complete the replacement, the surgeon may enter from the back or front of the hip area. From there, the surgeon removes the degraded bone and installs the necessary prostheses. Surgeons complete the procedure in about 2 hours with an average 95% success rate.
2. What difference will total hip replacement make?
Despite popular belief, most doctors will try to avoid surgery, using less invasive options like medication and therapy first. Surgery would not be recommended unless the doctor believes the procedure will significantly improve the patient’s quality of life. Persons with total hip replacements report little to no pain. Patients can expect these replacements to last over 15 years, based on studies. Hip replacement patients can enjoy simple activities like walking, chores, and exercise again.
3. How long would recovery take?
Asking the surgeon about recovery is a natural question. After all, some time will be spent healing. In ideal cases, recovery after surgery can be as little as 6-8 weeks. After that time, patients can do simple tasks like walking. However, long-term recovery can take as long as 6 months. The body must get accustomed to the new joint. By then, all muscles and tissue recovers. Doctors may also recommend physical therapy to speed up the healing process. With this timeframe in mind, patients can plan to make recovery easier.
Points to consider
With any surgery, there are complications to consider. Hip replacement surgery may result in excessive blood loss. So surgeons will advise on having banked blood just in case. There is also a small possibility of infection of the surgical site. In rare cases, the prosthetic can cause one leg to be slightly shorter than the other. Experienced surgeons will protect the patient as best as possible to avoid any complications.
Get the facts first
A total hip replacement sounds scary. The procedure is a major surgery to replace natural bones. However, a total hip replacement can change life for the better. If conventional treatment brings no relief to arthritis or hip pain, speak with a surgeon now. An orthopedic surgeon can provide treatment recommendations, including whether a total joint replacement will be beneficial.