Arthroplasty or hip replacement surgery is a procedure in which artificial parts are used to replace the diseased parts of a hip joint. Nearly 200,000 Americans undergo this surgery every year, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Only 10 per cent require revisions after initial surgery.
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Arthritis or disease in the hip joint is the most common reason replacement surgery is performed. Because it is one of the largest working joints in the human body, damage to the hip can cause pain as well as problems in everyday life. Artificial parts, known as prosthesis, are used to replace the diseased areas, thus allowing for renewed flexibility and mobility and relief from pain.
From being checked in, to getting the surgery, to being released from the hospital typically takes about four days. If progress is quick, you may be released after only three; conversely, any complications can result in a longer stay.
Pain associated with the surgery itself is common for several days afterward and you will be given medication to treat it.
After being released from the hospital, most people will fully recover from arthroplasty within three to six months. The time can vary depending on the patient's health and the rehabilitiation (physiotherapy) process.
About a day after surgery, a physical therapist will begin working with you on exercises to help you recover. This usually takes place once or twice a day. Once you return, your physical therapist will work with you much more in the beginning and less as you regain mobility.
Your therapy will involve strengthening your legs, ankles and buttocks muscles through isometric exercises, usually while you are lying on your back. You will be instructed not to move your new joint or to move it only slightly while doing these exercises that will strengthen the muscles around it.
You will also be shown how to safely get in and out of a chair or bed and on and off of a toilet.
When you are able, you will be instructed to begin a walking regime, followed by an exercise plan.
The most common complications after this surgery are blood clotting in the pelvis or leg veins and hip dislocation.
Although blood clots are life-threatening if not taken care of immediately, you will be given preventive medication in advance to lessen the likelihood of clotting. You will also be instructed to contact your doctor at once if you notice any swelling, discolouration or acute pain.
The new hip ball and socket will not be as big as your bones, so hip dislocation can occur if you put yourself in certain positions, such as pulling your knees to your chest. You will instructed in preventing these problems during physiotherapy.
Because bacterial infections can occur after surgery, you need to take antibiotics before any other surgical work is done, as well as any dental work. It is during these times that bacteria can enter your bloodstream and cause infection in the new joint.
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