Total hip replacement surgery almost always reduces joint pain. During this surgery, your problem hip joint is replaced with an artificial joint (called a prosthesis).
Benefits of hip replacement
Total hip replacement surgery is a remarkable solution for many people who are suffering with hip pain. Hip replacement surgery almost always:
- Stops or greatly reduces hip pain. Even the pain from surgery should go away within weeks
- Increases leg strength. Without hip pain, you’ll be able to use your legs more. This will build up your muscles
- Improves quality of life by allowing you to do daily tasks and low-impact activities in greater comfort
- Provides years of easier movement. Most total hip replacements last for many years
Before your surgery
You will most likely arrive at the hospital on the morning of your hip replacement surgery. In many cases, pre-op tests are done days or even weeks ahead of time. When you arrive, you’ll be given forms to fill out. You may also talk with the anesthesiologist (the doctor who gives the anesthesia), if you haven’t done so already. Be sure to follow all of your knee doctor’s instructions on preparing for hip replacement surgery:
- You should stop eating or drinking 10 hours before surgery
- If you take a daily medication, ask if you should still take it the morning of surgery
At the hospital, your temperature, pulse, breathing, and blood pressure will be checked.
An IV (intravenous) line may be started to provide fluids and medications needed during surgery.
Hip replacement surgery procedure
When your hip doctor and the rest of the surgical team are ready, you’ll be taken to the operating room. There you’ll be given anesthesia. The anesthesia will help you sleep through your hip replacement surgery, or it will make you numb from the waist down. Then an incision is made, giving the surgeon access to your hip joint. The damaged ball is removed, and the socket is prepared to hold the prosthesis. After the new joint is in place, the incision is closed with staples or stitches.
Preparing the bone
The hip is a ball-and-socket joint. The ball is cut from the thighbone, and the surface of the old socket is smoothed. Then the new socket is put into the pelvis. The socket is usually press-fit and may be held in place with screws. A press-fit prosthesis has tiny pores on its surface that your bone will grow into. Cement or press-fit may be used to hold the ball-and-stem portion of the total hip replacement.
Joining the new parts
The new hip stem is inserted into the head of your thighbone. After the stem is secure in the thighbone, the new ball and socket are joined. The stem of the prosthesis may be held with cement or press-fit. Your hip doctor will choose the method that is best for you.
After your surgery
After your hip replacement surgery, you’ll be sent to the PACU (post anesthesia care unit). When you are fully awake, you’ll be moved to your room. The nurses will give you medications to ease your pain. You may have a catheter (small tube) in your bladder and a drain in your hip. To keep your new joint stable, a foam wedge or pillows may be placed between your legs. In some cases, a brace is used. An SCM (sequential compression machine) may be used to prevent blood clots by gently squeezing then releasing your legs. You may be given medication to prevent blood clots.
Soon, our skilled Joint University orthopedic team will help you get up and moving. They know precisely what they’re doing and how to help you recover, heal, and get back to life in the fastest, safest way possible. You may also have physical therapy or occupational therapy after your hip replacement surgery. This will be coordinated by your Joint University team.
After total hip replacement surgery, you will probably be hospitalized for one to three days. Recovery time varies following hip replacement surgery, but most people are able to drive after two weeks, garden after three to four weeks, and golf after six to eight weeks. Your hip doctor will tell you which activities you can return to, and when, and which activities to avoid.
Risks and complications
As with any surgery, hip replacement surgery carries possible risks and complications. These include the following:
- Reaction to the anesthesia
- Blood clots
- Dislocation of the joint or loosening of the prosthesis
- Wearing out the prosthetic
- Damage to nearby blood vessels, bones, or nerves
When to call your doctor
Once at home, call your doctor if you have any of the symptoms below:
- An increase in knee pain
- Pain or swelling in a calf or leg
- Unusual redness, heat, or drainage at the incision site
- Fever of 101 degrees Fahrenheit (38.3 degrees Celsius) or higher
- Trouble breathing or chest pain (call 911)
“Being able to have painful joints replaced is remarkable! I do believe that, without the hip and knee replacements, I would be unable to go anywhere. I can’t say enough good things about Dr. Iero. He really is tops!”
~Mildred Jones, St. Joseph Orthopedic Patient
“I couldn’t have asked for a better hip replacement experience! Dr. Veazey, his staff, and the entire St. Joseph Joint U program are exceptional.”
~Melinda Green, St. Joseph Orthopedic Patient
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