Hip Replacement

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About hip replacement

Hip replacement surgery – also called hip arthroplasty – is a routine procedure for people with severe osteoarthritis among other conditions. It involves replacing some (partial hip replacement) or all (total hip replacement) of the damaged hip joint with a prosthetic implant made from metal, ceramic and hard plastic.

Hip replacement surgery is normally offered to people experiencing severe pain from conditions such as:

  • Osteoarthritis, which causes damage to the slippery cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones and helps the joints to move smoothly.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis, which is an autoimmune condition that causes inflammation that damages cartilage and can result in joint deformity.
  • Osteonecrosis, which can cause deformity to the ball at the top of the thighbone due to an interruption in the blood supply.

It is normally only offered once other less invasive techniques, such as corticosteroid injections, no longer provide sufficient pain relief. If you have worsening pain or pain that is persistent despite taking pain relieving medication or that interferes with your sleep, you may be suitable for hip replacement surgery.

Prior to surgery you will receive a thorough examination to determine the range of motion in your hip joint and your general level of health. You may have an X-ray or MRI scan, or an injection of anaesthetic into the joint to pinpoint the exact location of the pain.

Surgery is normally carried out under general anaesthetic, which means you will be asleep throughout. An incision is made in the front or side of the hip and the diseased or damaged bone and cartilage is removed, leaving any healthy bone and tissue intact. A prosthetic implant replaces the damaged socket and a prosthetic ball on a stem is inserted into your thighbone. Afterwards, the surgeon will use sutures to close the incision site. You will be moved to the recovery area and closely monitored while the anaesthetic wears off.

To reduce the risk of blood clots you will be given elastic compression stockings or inflatable air sleeves which prevent the blood from pooling in your leg veins. You may be given an injection of blood thinning medication or oral blood thinners. You will be encouraged to stand up and try walking soon after surgery, normally the same day or the following day.

After surgery, a physical therapist will recommend exercises to help you to rebuild strength and flexibility in your joint. You will be shown how to walk using a walking aid, normally a walker, crutches or a stick. You will also be shown how to care for your new hip, such as how to get in and out of a car. You may need special aids in the first few weeks after surgery, such as a raised toilet seat to prevent having to bend your hip too much.

You will have a follow-up appointment six to 12 weeks after surgery to check that you are healing well and will normally be able to resume most normal activities by this time.

Prosthetic implants generally last 15-20 years. Hip revision surgery can be needed to replace the original prosthetic implant when it wears out. The procedure is similar to a total or partial hip replacement, although the risk of complications may be higher. Your orthopaedic surgeon will discuss this with you prior to surgery.

Hip replacement surgery helps to relieve pain, improve flexibility and increase mobility for people who are suffering from severe hip pain.

Although hip replacement surgery is a routine procedure, there are some associated risks including:

  • Infection, which may require treatment with antibiotics or, in severe cases, replacement of the prosthetic implant.
  • Blood clots which can form in the leg veins. You may be given blood-thinning medication to reduce the risk.
  • Dislocation or fracture.
  • Loosening of the implant, which may require surgery to repair it.

Partial and total hip replacement surgery is generally a safe and effective way to relieve pain and increase the range of movement and flexibility in the hip joint.

While you may not be able to participate in high-impact activities such as running, once you have healed you may be able to participate in less high-impact sports such as swimming, walking and riding a bike.

Whatever your age, our expertise can help you feel healthy, active and pain-free again.