If you are experiencing severe pain and loss of mobility due to hip joint damage, you may be offered total hip replacement surgery. For some people, the idea of this type of surgery can, understandably, be a bit daunting. But hip replacement surgery is a safe, routine procedure that provides effective, long-term relief from pain and disability.
Hip replacements were first performed in the 1960s. According to the National Joint Registry’s latest statistics, more than 97,000 hip replacement procedures were carried out in the UK in 2018. This is up from around 73,500 in 2010.
So, what does hip replacement surgery entail and who might be suitable?
Hip replacement surgery means removing the damaged hip joint and replacing it with an artificial implant, made from metal, ceramic or hard plastic. Total hip replacements replace the entire hip joint while partial hip replacements only replace part of the joint.
The hip joint can become damaged as a result of a degenerative condition like arthritis or due to a fracture. If possible, your doctor will normally suggest minimally invasive ways of managing the pain of hip joint damage, such as medication, physiotherapy or corticosteroid injections, before recommending surgery.
However, once the pain of joint damage becomes so severe that it is affecting your mobility and your ability to manage day-to-day activities you may be advised to have joint replacement surgery. Severe hip pain can have a significant impact on your quality of life and can even lead to depression.
Whilst nobody welcomes surgery, it really can be life-changing to get back to living with reduced pain, but in most cases, pain-free.
“The hip replacement I had is a blessing in disguise. I can move. I can tie my shoes. I am six weeks in. I can turn without pain in bed. Walking wise I am a 100 per cent improved.”
Total hip replacement vs partial hip replacement
In total hip replacement, the entire damaged hip joint and surrounding cartilage is removed and replaced with artificial implants whereas in partial hip replacement only the ball of the femur is replaced.
Partial hip replacements are normally used when the patient has suffered a fractured neck of femur (with the fracture resulting in the ball part of the joint becoming disconnected from the thigh bone). Partial hip replacements are less common than total hip replacements and are normally most suited to older patients.
Who would need hip replacement surgery?
You may need hip replacement surgery if you have:
- Osteoarthritis – this is caused by age-related wear and tear. It results in the cartilage that cushions the bones starting to thin and wear away. Over time, it may become so worn that the bones start to rub against each other, causing severe pain and loss of mobility.
- Post-traumatic arthritis – this can occur after a serious hip injury or fracture. Symptoms are similar to osteoarthritis.
- Rheumatoid arthritis – this is an autoimmune condition. The body’s immune system starts to attack the synovial membrane, leading to pain and inflammation.
- Congenital hip deformity – this type of deformity, which is present from birth can lead to hip arthritis later in life.
- Hip fractures – these can result in severe damage to the joint, particularly in older people.
- Avascular necrosis – this is caused by problems with blood supply to the head of the femoral bone which can result in the death of this part of the bone.
- Ankylosing spondylitis – this is inflammation that affects the spine and other joints in the body, including the hip. It causes pain, swelling and fatigue.
Adults of any age may be considered for hip replacement but the surgery is most commonly performed on people aged between 60 and 80. Revision hip replacement surgery means replacing a prosthetic implant that has worn out. Most hip implants last between 15 and 20 years.
“It’s exactly one year ago today that I had my right hip replacement. I haven’t had a minute’s trouble from it since. So this is to say keep up the good work and thanks for the last 12 months from one very happy customer!”
What to expect from your hip replacement surgery
Most total hip replacement surgery is carried out under general anaesthetic, which means you will be asleep throughout. In some cases an epidural is used to numb the lower half of the body.
The surgeon makes an incision in the hip and removes the damaged joint and cartilage. It is replaced with an artificial implant.
Prior to surgery it is a good idea to stay as active as you can and strengthen the muscles around your hip, as this will support your recovery from surgery. Swimming and walking are good forms of exercise and you may also be given specific muscle-strengthening exercises by a physiotherapist.
Hip replacement surgery is generally a safe procedure that has good results. However, as with any surgery, there is a small risk of complications, including:
- Infection in the wound or implant – these are normally treated with antibiotics. In rare cases surgery may be needed to remove the artificial implant.
- Blood clots – you will be given blood thinning medication, support stockings or inflatable leg coverings to prevent these. Getting up on your feet as soon as possible can also help.
- Dislocation – the risk is greatest in the first few months before the tissues have fully healed. Repeated dislocations may require surgery.
Recovery after a hip replacement
After surgery, it is important to rehabilitate properly. You will be encouraged to get up and about soon after your operation, often on the same day. A physiotherapist will recommend exercises to help you to retain full use of your hip joint and build your strength.
After around six weeks you should be able to return to light activities, however, your rate of recovery will be influenced by a range of factors, including your age, general fitness levels and the type of work you do. You will be given specific advice on caring for your new hip and avoiding injury.
Be reassured that Go Orthopaedics take aftercare very seriously as it can certainly affect the end result of the surgery. We will guide you all the way with what you need to do to help ensure a fast and effective recovery.
Hip replacement surgery | London
Mr Vivek Gulati is an experienced orthopaedic surgeon with the expertise to perform hip replacement surgery for you.
For your appointment there is a choice of locations:
The London Clinic – 116 Harley Street, London, W1G 7JL, Directions
BMI The London Independent Hospital, 1 Beaumont Square, Stepney Green, London, E1 4NL, Directions
Our Consultation Fees are clearly presented here.
If you have any questions or would like to discuss your treatment options with a specialist, please contact the team.