What to Expect Following Your Hip Replacement
Every year, millions of patients worldwide undergo a hip replacement in the hope of resuming a normal life, but are their expectations realistic? Surgeons have been successfully performing joint replacement surgery since the 1960s, although the earliest attempts were made in the early 1800s, albeit with minimal success other than providing proof of concept. While the eventual success of these procedures, technically known as arthroplasty, was due, in part, to experience and improved surgical technique, advances in materials science have played a more prominent role. With the introduction of stainless steel, titanium, ceramics and robust plastics, prosthetic joints have become the preferred solution for many patients affected by worsening chronic joint pain, swelling and impaired mobility.
Why Might you Need a Hip Replacement?
The femoroacetabular joint, to use its scientific name, is the articulation between the head of the thigh bone or femur and a depression in the pelvic girdle called the acetabulum. Each boney surface is coated with a cartilage layer, enabling frictionless movement between the two, and the entire structure is held in place by muscles, tendons and ligaments. Any injury or disease process that damages the protective cartilage layers or causes the joint’s components to become misaligned might eventually require a hip replacement. Worsening pain, swelling and reduced mobility are typical warning signs. The following are the most common reasons to perform this type of surgery.
- Osteoarthritis: This condition is a chronic degenerative illness in which the protective cartilage layer breaks down, leaving the exposed bone susceptible to damage
- Rheumatoid Arthritis: RA is an autoimmune disorder resulting in severe inflammation in and around the joints.
- Avascular Necrosis: This condition is caused by a restriction of the blood supply to the joint resulting in the collapse and death of bone tissue. It may arise from an injury, long-term use of certain medications or secondary to other chronic conditions.
- Fractures and Tumours: Breaks close to the pelvic area and malignancies in this region are generally best treated in this manner.
Don’t Expect Immediate Results From Your Hip Replacement Surgery
All surgery entails an element of trauma. After all, the surgeon will cut through muscles, dislocate your joint and remove the damaged sections of bone before inserting the prosthetic components. So, not surprisingly, you can expect high pain levels during the immediate postoperative period. Furthermore, although you will be prescribed painkillers, you will be expected to stand and start walking soon after the procedure. However, after the first few days, the pain will subside, and you will find you can move more freely, albeit with the help of a cane or a walking frame.
Recovery times vary and depend to some extent on your age and general health. However, most people should be able to return to work within a few months of their surgery or less.
Will it be Business as Usual After a Hip Replacement?
Realistically, you can expect freedom from pain and swelling, and you should be able to tackle all the tasks you could before you became ill. How complete your rehabilitation will be and how long it will take depends mainly on the care you take during your recovery. You can click here to get more information about hip replacement surgery at the Wilgers Life Hospital in Pretoria.