Hip pain is caused by osteoarthritis, fracture, rheumatoid arthritis, and aseptic bone necrosis. Sometimes these conditions improve, but there is no cure for joint pain and severe cases cannot always be controlled by medication and rehabilitation. When this happens, some patients have difficulty walking and the impaired movement hinders everyday activities. These patients sometimes opt for hip replacement surgery. This entails removal of the damaged hip and replacement with a prosthesis. The prosthetic hip is usually made of a combination of metal and plastic.
To ease recovery after hip replacement surgery, patients are often asked to make adjustments to lifestyle prior to surgery. Those with excess weight are encourage to adopt a healthier eating plan and recovery exercise programs are explored. Smokers are asked to quit because tobacco use can increase surgical risk and slow recovery time after hip replacement surgery. Dental procedures should be completed beforehand, if possible, and when appropriate, patients may wish to donate blood in case a transfusion is needed during surgery.
The procedure usually takes about two to four hours and when patients awaken after hip replacement surgery, they will be in a recovery room where a nurse monitors them. Pain medication will be administered and patients will have a pillow wedged between the legs to hold the hips in place. When patients are fully awake, they are transported to a hospital room.
Physical therapy is started in the hospital, usually within 24 hours. Walking aids such as canes,walkers, and crutches are used after hip replacement surgery, until a patient is able to walk comfortably without help. Patients can expect pain to continue for a few days, but it will be controlled with medication. Nausea, constipation, and loss of appetite can also be expected, but these symptoms won't last more than a couple of days. After three to ten days, patients who can perform daily activities such as dressing and going to the bathroom on their own are released. Patients will learn new ways to bend and move that will ensure the new hip is protected.
Once patients are back at home, most activities can be resumed, but it will take time to heal and move comfortably. Patients may continue to take pain medications as well as a course of antibiotics and blood thinners to prevent clots in the thigh and calf. Most can expect to have some swelling for the first three to six months, but this can be managed with leg elevation and ice packs. Patients should watch for calf pain, chest pain, and shortness of breath, as these can indicate a blood clot. Hip replacement patients should pay attention to doctor's orders and continue a physical therapy plan for the best possible recovery.