Facts About Hip Replacements

Hip replacement surgery is an option for people with arthritis where a doctor removes part of or all of a painful hip joint and replaces it with an artificial implant.  Around 2.5 million people in the U.S. have had a hip replacement and go through hip replacement recovery to help them manage their arthritis pain.

While it can be an effective treatment option, the surgery is considered an option only when all other treatment plans have failed. In a total hip replacement, the entire hip is swapped for an artificial joint made of metal or plastic.

There are also procedures that treat specific issues and only replace part of the hip, such as a partial hip replacement or anterior hip replacement. The type of surgery your doctor recommends will be based on the cause of your pain and the best remedy to treat it.

Someone who is a candidate for a hip replacement will experience discomfort doing things like walking or going upstairs. They also will have moderate to severe pain when they’re resting, and might not be able to sleep as a result. The range of motion in the joint will be limited, and it could manifest in a limp or uneven gait.

Types of Hip Surgery

There are many different types of surgical options available on your joints, but when you’ve reached the point of considering a hip replacement, there are three main options.

  • Total Hip Replacement is when both the ball and socket of your hip are removed and replaced with a metal or plastic implant. This is the right choice if you have arthritis that is affecting the joint as a whole.
  • Partial Hip Replacement is a procedure that only replaces the ball, or the femoral head, of the damaged hip joint. This option is traditionally used when you’ve had an injury, such as a fall that’s broken your hip. This results in a fracture or break to the femoral head, which is repaired with an implant.
  • Anterior Hip Replacement is a less invasive approach to hip replacement surgery. While it is a new technology that’s still being perfected, it’s growing in popularity due to a shorter hip replacement recovery timeline.

What is Recovery Time For A Hip Replacement?

The surgery is an intense procedure, and hip replacement recovery time for elderly people varies. Generally, you'll stay in the hospital for between four and six days following the surgery and will begin physical therapy within 24-hours to get your body moving again. Most patients can walk with a cane, walker, or crutches before they are discharged from the hospital.

Physical therapy will be ongoing, and depending on your progress you will do those sessions for several weeks to months following the procedure.

For six to twelve months following your hip surgery, you’ll need to be careful of pivoting, twisting, crossing your legs, or bending the joint past 90 degrees.

There are a few ways to speed along your hip surgery recovery, including things you can do at home to make the process as smooth as possible.

Tips to Help With Recovery

Prepare Your Home Ahead of Time

Once you’re discharged from the hospital, you’ll head home. It’s important to prepare your home prior to your procedure to clear potential hazards from your walking path. Move cords or other things that may cause you to trip out of the way, and arrange furniture so that you can maneuver around it with your walker, crutches, and cane. Place items you use or will frequently need, like your medications, remote, or phone in an easy to reach area to limit the need to get up and sit back down during the first several days.

Get Moving

Once it’s approved by your doctor and physical therapist, begin adding in your activities of daily life. Make sure not to become sedentary just because the action is uncomfortable.  Moving will not only promote joint mobility, but it will increase blood flow which will speed the healing process.

Do Physical Therapy

Following a regular physical therapy routine is a crucial step to getting back to 100%. Your therapist will give you daily exercises to do on your own and monitor your progress along the way. They will let you know when it’s safe to increase your activity and will work with you until your strength and mobility are fully restored.

Focus on Nutrition and Weight

Eating healthy and keeping your weight down is crucial to the healing process. Give your body the nutrients and energy it needs through a healthy diet full of lean protein, fruits and vegetables, and healthy carbohydrates. Take care not to gain weight as this can put additional stress on your new joint and make it more difficult to regain typical movement patterns.

Keep Swelling Down

Follow your doctor’s advice to minimize swelling following your procedure. This may include taking over the counter medications, elevating, icing, or wearing compression socks to assist with the process.

Hip Replacement Restrictions Post-Op

Your doctor and physical therapist will give you a list of things not to do following your surgery. Some of these may be temporary, while others will be indefinite to maintain the health of your new artificial joint.

Everyone will need to take care to not bend their hip at more than a 90-degree angle when sitting or standing after their replacement. Things like sitting on a low stool, sofa, or chair will be impossible.

Crossing your legs is another restriction. Not only could this cut off blood flow, but it could also twist the joint in an uncomfortable position.

Also, any sort of twisting while standing on the surgical leg is to be avoided. Take care to keep your feet positioned with your toes pointing straight forward at all times.

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