Anxious about Hip Replacement Surgery?
Seems an odd question to start with, but believe me, it’s a very common question people contemplating hip replacement surgery ask themselves (or friends) every single day!
Hi my name is Nancy.
When I was 53 years old, I neglected my health. (I’m 57 now.)
What I mean by that is, it was only once I felt pain in parts of my body, that I actually did anything about it.
That was a big mistake. One I’ve truly come to understand and rectify at this point in my life.
One day, 4 years ago, I had started the morning with my normal wake up routine, Yoga (I love stretching out) and a good 30 minute meditation.
I remember standing at the kitchen bench staring out the window which overlooked some forest like beautiful scenery. I felt very blessed in that moment with my home and its nature surroundings.
I began pouring some fresh water from a jug into my glass, but accidentally it over flowed with water and spilled all over the floor beneath me.
I really thought nothing of this. Just a clumsy act. Nothing to beat myself up about.
But when I bent down with a towel to wipe the excess water off the floor, I let out an awful cry of pain while clutching at my right hip side! Pain I was feeling directly below my waist area, it was sharp and dull and very painful.
I knew, it was in my hip area.
Now this was no new injury. I had been experiencing this pain for over 6 months and it seemed to be getting exponentially worse.
That was a very scary moment for me because one, I didn’t know what this pain was, and two, I was too scared to find out.
I was also allowing myself to think the worst which of course, is the last thing a person should do.
When you’re similar to my age, for some it can be very scary and you can be full of fear.
It’s the unknown, the cost of the surgery, the recovery time, will it be successful, will I notice changes in movement straight away? And more…
Luckily for me, over the next few months, I had a very supportive doctor.
That can make all the difference when we are getting diagnosed for any type of ailment.
Apart from my own research about Hip Replacement Surgeries, my doctor also helped me understand both the pros and cons of having a Hip Operation of such magnitude.
What I found interesting also, that when I was researching using Google, I didn’t find anything quite as comprehensive in terms of answering questions I had.
That’s when I decided to write a post about “Hip Replacement Surgery” with a friend of mine (a writer friend).
What follows below, is information: questions with answers on the topic HRO.
I hope it is valuable to you in your time of need if you come to experience the same circumstances I did.
How long does hip replacement surgery take?
You can easily treat hip pain at home by taking a rest from strenuous activities, applying ice packs on the affected area, undertaking specific exercises that strengthen the hip or taking medications for pain relief.
However, in cases where the above-mentioned remedies do not work, hip replacement surgery may prove to be the only viable solution to this condition.
What is a hip replacement?
Hip replacement is an invasive medical procedure done by a professional surgeon to replace a painful or damaged hip joint with a prosthetic implant. The prosthetic joint usually consists of plastic or metal due to the flexibility of these components.
Hip replacement surgery may be partial (hemi) or full (total replacement), depending on the severity of the condition and the amount of damage to the joint. Doctors recommend this procedure as a last resort, when all other remedies have failed to provide sufficient relief.
What are the first signs of needing a hip replacement?
Hip replacement is a delicate surgical procedure that seeks to alleviate pain and improve your quality of life.
However, considering the fact that it is a major, life-changing operation, your doctor will recommend this procedure if it is the only remaining treatment option.
Nevertheless, hip replacement does not have any set rules.
In this regard, the severity of your condition will determine whether you require surgery or not. Here are the first signs you need a hip replacement.
• Obvious stiffness
Stiffness in your hip is one of the most common signs you may need a hip replacement.
If you are having trouble putting on your shoes or socks, especially on one foot, or having trouble sitting for long periods, then it is high time you talk to your physician about having your hip replaced.
• Soreness during activity
Hip pain that seems to heighten with activity, but quickly subsides with rest is a sign that you need to undergo surgery. Even though the pain might lessen with rest, it may still hinder your mobility in walking, running, getting in and out of chairs or even managing the stairs.
• Interrupted sleep due to pain
If your hip pain constantly disturbs your sleep or keeps you awake at night, then it is high time you talk to your surgeon about replacing your hip joint.
Lack of sleep due to hip pain will certainly have major ramifications in your life and it may even affect your performance at work.
• Inability to stand on one leg
Another way to find out if you need hip replacement surgery is to perform the one leg test. This test requires you to stand on one leg for more than one minute without relenting.
If you cannot stand for long even with the support of the wall or a doorframe then you probably need to replace your hip joint.
• Recurring pain
Recurring pain around the hips, groin or bum even after undergoing various treatment options might just be a sign that you need to replace your hip joint.
You do not have to put up with using a walking stick or taking pain relievers if hip replacement surgery can offer you a permanent solution.
• Noticeable swelling in your hip
Visual changes to the structure of your hip are enough reasons to worry. Notably, your hip may swell asymmetrically due to inflammation, leading to great pain and discomfort.
If every other treatment option fails, undergoing hip replacement surgery may turn out to be the best decision you could ever make.
• Lifestyle limitations
If you find yourself continuously limited to enjoying your favorite hobbies such as jogging, gardening or even playing with your kids due to hip pain, then you should think about talking to your doctor on the possibility of undergoing hip replacement surgery.
Hip pain should not limit your lifestyle hence going under the knife is always a viable treatment option.
What are the types of hip replacement surgery?
There are various types of hip replacement surgery.
These include: Total hip replacement surgery, partial hip replacement surgery and hip resurfacing.
Here is a brief description of each procedure.
• Total hip replacement surgery
Total hip replacement, also known as total hip arthroplasty is the most recognized type of hip surgery. It involves the removal and replacement of a damaged hip with a prosthesis of plastic, metal or ceramic components.
Essentially, part of the femur (thighbone), including the ball is carefully removed and replaced with a smaller artificial ball. However, the doctor has to roughen the existing socket of the pelvis for it to accept the new prosthetic components.
This allows the surrounding bone to renew itself and grow onto the new components.
• Partial hip replacement surgery
As the name suggests, partial hip replacement surgery or hemiarthroplasty, is the partial removal of the hip joint.
Instead of removing both the thighbone and the ball, the surgeon will remove and replace the head of the femur (the ball) only considering the fact that it experiences the most pounding when you are walking or running.
Partial hip replacement is ideal for fractured or broken hips rather than treating hip pain caused by degenerative arthritis.
Furthermore, hemiarthroplasty is ideal for patients with Type 1 subcapital fractures.
• Hip resurfacing
Hip resurfacing is not a replacement procedure but rather a treatment option used to delay the prospects of performing a total hip replacement.
In essence, the prosthetic implants used for total hip replacement do not last for more than 20 years. For this reason, resurfacing the hip is a much better alternative especially when treating hip pain caused by arthritis symptoms.
During this procedure, the surgeon will resurface the existing ball instead of replacing it with an artificial ball.
Preparing for hip replacement surgery
After making the firm decision to undergo hip surgery, you have to wait for roughly 6 to 8 weeks for admission.
In most cases, the doctor will invite you to a pre-admission clinic 2 to 3 weeks before the actual surgery.
The essence of this clinic is to prepare you for surgery, and it may involve a number of tests.
• X-rays of your hips to determine the position/extent of the damage
• Blood tests to check for various conditions such as anemia
• Urine tests to check for infections
• ECG testing to check the health of your heart
What is the hip replacement surgery recovery time?
Recovery times for hip replacement depends on the type of surgery and the technique used. Furthermore, the age of the patient may also have a bearing on the recovery times.
Long-term recover for a total hip replacement surgery takes 1 to 6 months while partial hip replacement might take up to 6 weeks.
Younger patients also tend to heal faster compared to their older counterparts.
Most hip replacement patients are able to walk within the first two days albeit with the help of a walker or a walking stick. By the third day, patients can return home.
Nevertheless, they will not be able to perform normal activities as full recovery might take up to 6 months.
You will also be required to report to your doctor 6 to 12 weeks after surgery, for routine checkups on the progress of the healing process.
It is also advisable that you prepare your home for a smoother, quicker recovery.
Removing obstacles such as slip mats and other items that might put you at risk of tripping are some of the measures that you can take to make your recovery process smoother.
Also, avoid risky activities such as skiing and skating.
What are the risks of hip replacement surgery?
If left untreated, hip pain can greatly affect your quality of life, and interfere with your daily schedule.
However, this does not mean that you should opt for surgery from the first instance of experiencing pain in your hip.
Surgery comes with various risks that might worsen the condition. With this in mind, you must confirm with your doctor if you should go ahead with the operation.
Below are some of the risks associated with hip replacement surgery.
Like any other form of surgery, bleeding will always be a major risk factor. This is particularly true if the operation time takes longer than expected. In severe cases, you may need to undergo a transfusion to replace lost blood.
Dislocation is perhaps the most common risk associated with hip replacement surgery. The prosthesis may dislocate within the first three months after surgery due to relaxed soft tissue and incomplete scar formation.
Considering the fact that hip replacement is invasive, there will always be a slight chance that bacteria might find its way into the surrounding tissue.
This may cause an infection, leading to further complications. Other causes of infection might include smoking, diabetes and taking immunosuppressive medications.
You may fracture your hip joint soon after surgery considering the fact that bones with artificial devices are usually brittle and susceptible to periprosthetic fractures.
Moreover, wear and tear of the artificial ball and sockets might cause loosening of the joint, subsequently increasing the risk of fractures.
• Chronic pain
Even after undergoing hip replacement surgery, you may experience chronic pain around the groin, bum, knees and hips.
However, taking pain relievers and anti-inflammatory meds might go a long way to reduce the pain
• Bloods clots
Blood clots might form in your veins during and after surgery, subsequently leading to vein thrombosis and other conditions such as pulmonary embolism.
These conditions are extremely serious and might turn fatal if the clots spread to the lung or heart.
• Metal sensitivity
Hip replacement normally involves the use of metal components that might be reactive to some patients.
Continuous contact with metal components might cause reactions such as itching, eczema, redness and skin hives.
What is the cost of hip replacement surgery?
The cost of hip replacement surgery depends on a number of factors, including the type of surgery, techniques used, the hospital offering the service, and your health insurance cover.
Your period of stay at the hospital and the number of times you have to report to your physician after surgery will also have a bearing on the overall costs.
Putting all these factors into consideration, you should expect to pay anything between $10,000 and $126,000.
What are the hip replacement surgery alternatives?
Bearing in mind the risks involved in hip replacement surgery, you might want to consider alternative treatment options. Below are hip surgery alternatives.
1. Non-surgical treatment
Normally, surgery is often the last resort when all other treatment options have failed to work effectively.
Nevertheless, if you choose to live with your condition, you may opt for non-surgical treatment options such as physiotherapy, cortisone injections, anti-inflammatory medications, and joint supplements.
If the timing is right, you may finally opt for corrective surgery to get rid of hip pain for good.
2. Arthrodesis (Hip Fusion)
Arthrodesis, or hip fusion is a surgical procedure that involves joining the bones of the femur and pelvis together, subsequently eliminating motion at the hip joint.
The main benefit of this procedure is that it does not wear out as prosthetic implants would. However, considering the fact that arthrodesis restricts the hip from moving, patients may walk with a limp and they may require further surgery to resolve the problem.
3. Resection Arthroplasty
This procedure involves removing the bone around the hip joint, allowing the created space to fill with scar tissue naturally. Resection arthroplasty is not effective in treating hip pain considering the fact that patients may not be able to walk again.
For this reason, this procedure is only suitable for people with severe hip problems and infections such that the possibility of walking normally is almost zero.
4. Hip Osteotomy
Hip Osteotomy is a procedure performed on individuals with hip dysplasia and other conditions associated with early hip arthritis. It involves realigning the bones of the hip joint, including the thighbone, and pelvis to relieve the symptoms of arthritis.
5. Metal-on-metal joint replacement
Metal-on-metal joint replacement is a procedure that involves resurfacing the original socket and femur, instead of removing the hip joint and replacing with an artificial ball.
The doctor will fit the affected thighbone with a metal cap and resurface the socket with a metal component.
If you have any questions that are NOT answered here, please comment below and we will endeavor to answer your question as fast as possible.