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Total Hip Replacement

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What Is Total Hip Replacement?

Total hip replacement is a surgical procedure where a hip prosthesis replaces the hip joint. It is also known as a prosthetic hip implant. Total hip replacement surgery has been conducted for over forty years. Constant improvement through integration of new technology has made total hip replacement a practical and safe procedure.

When Is Total Hip Replacement Recommended?

The need for total hip replacement is generally due to damage from arthritis, fractures, or other conditions. Hip pain can be excruciating and hinder you from doing simple tasks like walking, bending, putting on shoes, and resting. It can make activities you usually enjoy painful or next to impossible.

Why Should I Have A Total Hip Replacement?

A total hip replacement is a permanent solution that can greatly improve the quality of one’s life by eliminating hip stiffness and pain while increasing motion. This frees someone previously struggling with hip pain to return to their normal, daily activities.

Dr. Doerr Orthopedic Surgeon

Alternative Treatments To Total Hip Replacement

Just like any other surgical procedure, total hip replacement should not be the first option considered when experiencing hip stiffness or pain. It is essential to explore and exhaust other medical options first.

Anti-Inflammatory Medications

Some medicines like ibuprofen and acetaminophen are known to be effective at relieving pain. Most people who suffer from constant hip pain are first advised by their doctor to utilize these drugs to seek improvement. The purpose of anti-inflammatory medications is to decrease swelling and treat pain. They, however, do not address the underlying problems such as a fracture or arthritis. Anti-inflammatory medications are a treatment option recommended for someone who has not been suffering hip pain or the effects of arthritis for an extended period of time.

Physical Therapy

Physiotherapy can help to strengthen weakened hip muscles that surround the hip to help remove pressure. Physical Therapy improves your ability to manage dysfunction and pain. It increases motion in the hip and improves low back pain that is brought about by pain in the hip.
For this therapy to be successful, sessions should be scheduled with a therapist regularly. Some people will find relief after a significant period, while it’s possible others may feel their pain level increase and will need to stop treatment.

Corticosteroid Injections

This procedure involves the injection of an anti-inflammatory steroid medication. It is administered directly into the hip joint to relieve pain caused by arthritis or any other condition. Corticosteroid injections are required every three months to be effective. One should not have them just prior to a surgery as it can increase chance of infection.

If relief is not achievable through these alternative treatments and you continue to experience painful uncomfortable symptoms, you should consult further with your doctor regarding a total hip replacement.

How Do I Prepare For Total Hip Replacement?

You may be required to meet certain requirements prior to having a total hip replacement surgery. These steps help you prepare for the procedure and decrease the time necessary to heal.

  • Lose Weight
    • If your Body Mass Index is higher than desired, you may be required to start exercising and watch what you eat. A healthy body weight decreases your chances of developing post-surgical complications.
  • Quit Smoking
    • Nicotine can slow down the recovery process or even cause complications. If you are a smoker, your doctor will ask you to quit and also give you some smoking cessation tips.
  • Meet a Physical Therapist
    • Doing the right exercises is the key to quick and efficient recovery. If you can learn and practice certain movements before surgery, it will be easier for you to repeat them after surgery.
  • Inform your Friends and Family
    • Letting those close to you know you will be undergoing a total hip replacement ensures that you have support and help before and after the procedure. You will also be able to stay positive as you heal. This a large contributor in how fast you will be able to walk well again.
  • Buy Helpful Gadgets
    • Some devices like rails on stairways and in the bathroom, can make life after the surgical procedure much easier. Also, consider long-handled shoe horns.

What are the Risks of Total Hip Replacement?

  • Blood clots can form in the veins of your leg after surgery. These can travel to the lungs or heart and cause more complications.
    • A doctor can control this risk by putting the patient on blood thinning medications.
  • Infections can occur at the point of an incision or in the deeper tissue close to the new hip.
    • They can be treated with antibiotics, but a significant infection may require the removal and replacement of the prosthesis.
  • Although surgeons take great care to avoid this, a change in leg length is a common occurrence in total hip replacement.
  • There is a possibility of a new joint failing to be solidly fixed to your bone. Additionally, there is a possibility of it loosening over time, causing pain in your hip.
    • Another surgery may be required to fix the problem.

What Happens During Recovery and Rehabilitation?

After the total hip replacement procedure, you are likely to stay in a hospital for a couple of days. A wedge-shaped cushion is also placed between your legs to keep you comfortable.

Physical therapy sessions usually start a few days after the operation. The purpose of physiotherapy is to ensure the new hip can work just as efficiently. You will be able to walk within days of going for these sessions, but you will require a walker, cane or crutches. The therapy sessions will continue for weeks or even months until you can use your leg well.

How Can I Help Avoid Post-Surgery Complications?

Make sure you avoid twisting or pivoting your leg after surgery. Exercises like squatting or bending backward and forward can also result in post-surgery complications.

Dr. Doerr Orthopedic Surgeon

Conclusion

Hundreds of people go through total hip replacement every year, and successfully gain desired results. If you are considering this type of treatment due to arthritis or hip pain that is caused by other factors, be sure to consult with and follow the advice of your doctor.

Orthopedic Specialists

Jeffrey Hessing, MD and Timothy Doerr, MD have a passion for helping others. They have a combined 50 years of orthopedic excellence dedicated to the people of the Boise area. All of our surgeons are board certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery.

Dr. Doerr

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