Total Hip Replacement is a commonly performed procedure for when the ball and socket articulation of the hip joint wears out resulting in pain. ‘Wearing out’ is the essence of osteoarthritis. This is usually a part of the inevitable aging process but in some cases the hip may wear out at an earlier age due to deficiencies in the joint from other conditions which have made the hip less resilient.
In a hip replacement, the ball and socket are replaced with an artificial one. This is one of the most highly successful and reproducible operations in orthopaedics. It can be a definite life changing procedure.
X-Ray of Total Hip Replacement
The most important consideration is to decide whether a hip replacement is needed. Every patient is different but a hip replacement is a worthwhile option for when pain and impaired mobility are affecting quality of life. Rest or night pain, being unable to walk an appropriate distance like a simple weekly shopping trip are the common reasons. You should also have tried simple pain relief or anti-inflammatory medication if your GP allows. Sometimes an exercise plan and weight loss can delay the need for surgery for several years.
Your consultation will be comprehensive with discussion involving all the advantages and risks of surgery and some of the technical aspects that you need to know.
The Operation and Recovery
The operation is generally performed with the patient asleep. Local anaesthetic nerve blocks or a spinal anaesthetic will be used to minimise post operative discomfort. In most cases, expect to stand and take a few steps on the first day postop and to be walking around the ward by Day 3. Crutches, a walking stick or a walking frame will be required until you are safe and have good balance. Pain rapidly decreases and you will usually find that only Paracetamol is required by 2 weeks postoperatively. There will be a variable period of conditioning and a limp might be present for some months while muscles that hadn’t been used for a while become stronger.