A hip replacement surgery is one in which the hip joint is replaced with a prosthesis and is one of the procedures with excellent surgical outcome. Damage to the hip joint due to various conditions like osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or road traffic accidents might need this procedure. It can be done either as an open surgery or as a minimally invasive surgery. The orthopedic surgeon will decide on the procedure that is best for the patient.
At the Hospital
- A number of preoperative investigations will be carried out.
- The surgery will be carried out under general or spinal anaesthesia and will take a few hours.
- After surgery, the surgeon and his team will observe the patient to make sure he/she is stable before shifting him/her to the room.
- It usually requires hospitalization, the duration of which will vary from patient to patient.
- Physiotherapy forms an important part of the recovery process.
- It will begin at the hospital and will have to be continued after discharge.
- Like with any surgical procedure, pain after surgery is to be expected. The doctor will help with pain management.
The doctor will make sure the patient is fit for discharge by assessing the following:
- Pain should be manageable.
- The patient should be able to get into and out of the bed on his/her own.
- The patient should be able to move around with a walking aid.
- Tha patient should be comfortable using the bathroom without any help.
Dos and Don’ts at Home
A fall after a hip replacement procedure should be avoided at all costs. If the patient is living alone, he/she should arrange to have some help at home after the procedure. The home should also be modified to accommodate the needs of the patient. The following tips might help.
- Unclutter the house. Make sure there is enough space to move around without bumping into things. The patient probably uses an aid (like crutches), so more space will be needed for movement.
- If the patient’s bedroom necessitates climbing stairs, it would be best to shift him/her to the ground floor.
- The bedside table should have everything that is frequently used by the patient, like cell phone, charger, water bottle, medicines, etc.
- Any stray wires on the floor should be taken care of immediately. Carpets, mats, etc., should also be secured to minimize the risk of fall.
- Invest in a good chair – one that is firm, stable, and taller than the usual size. Soft chairs are best avoided.
- Installing rails in the bathroom to hold on to will be of great help while using the toilet.
- The doctor will give instructions on how to bathe as keeping the wound dry is important.
- Instructions on how to change the wound dressing and also on how often to change it will be issued.
- Keeping legs elevated and icing the area will help with post-operative pain. The ice should not be applied to the skin directly; it should be used in the form of an ice pack or alternatively wrapped in a towel before application.
- If the pain seems to escalate instead of getting better, it is best to consult the doctor. Any new swelling also deserves the doctor’s attention.
- Physiotherapy is of paramount importance and should be done diligently.
- Sleeping positions that the doctor suggests should be followed.
- Commencing driving requires the doctor’s approval.
- Include diet supplements with the doctor’s knowledge since if blood thinners are prescribed, vitamin K would be best avoided. Also include fluids in the diet.
- Avoid crossing the legs at the knee for 1 ½ – 2 months after surgery.
- Make sure the knee is always below the level of the hip when seated.
- When being seated or standing up, leaning in front should be avoided.
- While seated, avoid bending down to pick anything.
- While reaching down to pick up something, the feet should remain facing forward and should not turn towards or away from each other.
- The waist should not bend greater than 90 degrees.
- Do not take any medication without the doctor’s knowledge. If the patient is on drugs for other conditions, all should be disclosed to the doctor.
- Avoid smoking and alcohol consumption. They are detrimental to healing and reduce immunity.
- Don’t start sporting activities without the doctor’s knowledge. Walking and swimming are low-impact activities that can begin when the doctor thinks advisable.
- High-impact activities like skipping, running, etc. are best avoided.
- Undertake flight travel only with the doctor’s consent.
What to Watch Out For
As already stated, pain after surgery is expected, but the following conditions when experienced after surgery and discharge warrant an immediate consult with the doctor.
- Fever that exceeds 100° F
- Rigor (shivering)
- Escalating pain or inflammation
- Pus formation at the wound site
- Pain in any part of the leg that is not related to the surgical site
- Chest pain
Hip Replacement – Benefits
- The goal of hip replacement procedures is pain relief and return of mobility. The duration to achieve this will vary from patient to patient.
- Complete recovery may take a few weeks; adhering to the doctor’s advice will facilitate the process.
- The prognosis for this procedure is very good, with 95% of patients experiencing pain relief.
- Patients can walk without any pain.
- The relief from a hip replacement surgery lasts for a long period of time with 80-85% of the patients having pain relief lasting up to 20 years.
- A hip replacement also positively impacts the patient’s mental health by granting him/her independence from their caregivers.