Why get your hip replaced?
Osteoarthritis is the most common joint disorder and is one of the common causes of a hip replacement. It's is the result of aging and wear and tear on a joint. Being overweight increases the risk of osteoarthritis because carrying the extra weight can cause damage.
Most people who get a hip replacement are older than 60 and receive the surgery for degenerative reasons like this. The term degenerative refers to an age-related condition in which something breaks down over time.
People younger than 50 might undergo hip replacement surgery if they suffer from a hip injury caused from a traumatic accident. People who suffer from lupus might also end up needing a hip replacement. Lupus is a chronic inflammatory disease that causes your body's immune system to attack your own tissues and organs.
There is a variety of different types of equipment used in hip replacement surgery.
You will be placed under general anesthesia, so you will be unconscious for the surgery. You might be flipped onto your side with the hip that the surgeon is operating on pointing upward.
Each surgeon differs on how he or she will perform the surgery, but posterolateral approach is a common approach used in hip replacement surgeries. To begin the surgery, the surgeon might cut near where your pant pocket would be and go down the side of the leg, entering the hip from the back.
Your surgeon will split your gluteal muscles, near your upper buttocks, and release some of your hip muscles to access the hip bones. To place the hip implant, the medical team will remove the femoral head, or the top part of the thigh bone that looks like a ball.
They will also ream out the acetabulum and reshape it. The acetabulum is the area commonly referred to as your “hip socket.” Once they're finished reshaping it, your medical team will place a new socket inside of it. This is where the implanted femoral head will go.
Your hip prosthesis will consist of a ball component made of metal or ceramic, and a socket — an insert or liner made of plastic, ceramic or metal.
Does it hurt?
Before the surgery, many patients are in pain and limited in how much they can move without experiencing pain.
Pain after surgery is variable and not entirely predictable. After the surgery, you likely will be prescribed prescription pain medication to help you manage your pain. Most patients take these drugs for one to three weeks.
What are the risk factors?
Bleeding is always a risk of surgery. About one in three hip replacement patients need a blood transfusion. Blood clots and infection are also a risk.
About one in 300 patients might suffer from a deep infection. If a deep infection occurs, your surgeon will treat the infection and redo the surgery. This process can take three to six months.
Between 1 percent and 8 percent of patients dislocate their new hip, depending on which study you read. To prevent this from occurring, someone at the hospital should work with you to teach you what not to do. You might also undergo physical therapy after the surgery.
It's important to note that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has recalled some metal-on-metal hip implants. It's important to talk with your doctor and ask any questions you might have about the implant.
What's the recovery time?
You'll be in the hospital about four days. During this time, nurses and other medical professionals will educate you and work with you to best understand your new hip.
After you leave the hospital, you should be able to drive again after about two weeks if the replacement was in your right leg. If it was in your left leg, you should be able to drive once you're off narcotics.
After about three weeks, you should be able to return to work for limited duty. Like any implant, a hip implant is made for low-impact activities. You will be limited in some high-impact activities, such as basketball or running.
If you have a job that requires lots of movement, such as construction work, you could be limited because of the surgery.
After about eight weeks, you should be walking pretty well.
What's the follow-up?
Your doctor will want to see you shortly after surgery and then periodically throughout the year after your surgery. After about a year, your doctor might ask you to call him or her if you experience any problems.
Some patients might need their other hip replaced. This varies from person to person and depends on what other medical conditions the patient suffers from.
Sources: Dr. Robert German, an orthopedic surgeon at McBride Orthopedic Hospital; The Mayo Clinic; The National Institutes of Health; American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.