By Dr. R K Mathur, Orthopaedics
Hip replacement surgery is a method wherein a defective hip joint is removed and replaced with an artificial hip joint. This procedure is only opted for after all the other treatments have failed to yield the desired effects. Hip replacement surgery removes damaged or diseased parts of a hip joint and replaces them with new, man-made parts. The goals of this surgery are to:
- Relieve pain
- Help the hip joint work better
- Improve walking and other movements.
Who Should Have Hip Replacement Surgery?
The most common reason for hip replacement is osteoarthritis in the hip joint. Your doctor might also suggest this surgery if you have:
- Rheumatoid arthritis (a disease that causes joint pain, stiffness, and swelling)
- Osteonecrosis (a disease that causes the bone in joints to die)
- Injury of the hip joint
- Bone tumors that break down the hip joint.
Your doctor will likely suggest other treatments first, including:
- Walking aids, such as a cane
- An exercise program
- Physical therapy
These treatments may decrease hip pain and improve function. Sometimes the pain remains and makes daily activities hard to do. In this case, your doctor may order an x-ray to look at the damage to the joint. If the x ray shows damage and your hip joint hurts, you may need a hip replacement.
Hip replacement surgery is a procedure that can either be performed by traditional means or a minimally invasive procedure. The primary difference between the two procedures is the size of the incision. The procedure begins with the doctor administering local anesthesia, though in certain cases, general anesthesia is also administered.
- An incision is then made along the hip and the muscles that are connected to the thigh bone are shifted, so that the hip joint is exposed.
- An equipment is then used to remove the ball socket of the joint by cutting the thighbone.
- The artificial joint is then fixed to the thighbone and it is allowed to adhere properly.
- Once the joint is fixed, the ball of the thighbone is then put in the hip socket.
- The fluids from the incision area are then allowed to drain.
- The hip muscles are then put in place and the incision is closed.
After the surgery, the recovery stage begins. The period of hospital stay post-surgery usually lasts for 4-6 days. A drainage tube is attached to the bladder to get rid of waste products from the body. Physical therapy begins immediately after the surgery and you will be able to walk after a few days with walking aids. The physical therapy continues for a few months after the surgery.
It is advised to avoid activities that involve twisting your leg for at least half a year. You should also avoid crossing the leg along the mid portion of your body. Your physiotherapist will provide you with exercises that aid to help you recover. Avoid climbing stairs and sit on chairs that have strong back support.