Hip replacement surgery is an orthopedic procedure where the damaged hip joint is replaced by an artificial joint ‘prosthesis’. Prostheses are made of materials like metal, ceramic or plastic so that they are accepted by the body. Hip replacement surgery is commonly advised to patients with damaged hip joint due to arthritis, hip fractures and benign or malignant bone tumors. Symptoms such as continuous hip pain, even when the patient is taking medication; difficulty in commuting, difficulty using a staircase, increased pain on walking, difficulty in rising from a seated position etc. may be the reasons for considering the surgery. The ultimate goal of this operation is to relieve the patient of his suffering and achieve maximum joint mobility.
Generally speaking, hip replacement surgery is a very safe procedure. Exceptions include potential complications that are possible when undergoing any surgery, like blood clot formation in the veins of legs due to decreased leg movement and from pressure on veins during surgery. Chances of complicates can be reduced through the use of blood thinning medicines, elastic stockings and early post-surgery mobilization of the patient. There is the potential of an infection at the site of surgery that can be prevented by antibiotics prior to the surgery. Other surgery-related complications include joint fracture, dislocation, breaking of the prosthesis, stiffening of the joint or a change in length of joint due to weakness of muscles around the joint.
Post surgery the patient is encouraged to use elastic stockings and start walking as soon as possible in order to prevent the complications caused due to prolonged immobility. Apart from these, the most important formula for a speedy recovery and reduced dependency on others for your daily needs is regular physiotherapy. During these sessions of specific strengthening exercises, the physiotherapist makes you do certain exercises that help in strengthening the operated joint and gain maximum confidence to walk without any support or assistance. The therapist may teach you exercises that you can do by yourself at home without their assistance. Recovery is faster if you follow strictly the regimen of exercises and have a calcium rich diet of foods like milk, yogurt, cheese or buttermilk. You will see the result of your efforts when you are able to perform activities like swimming or riding a bike without any pain or crunching sounds from the hips.
Penned by Dr. Rachita Narsaria, MD