Surgery is offered when you have a condition that is affecting your everyday activities due to pain or stiffness, as well as your ability to sleep and where other treatments have failed to improve your symptoms.
During surgery, which is normally carried out under a regional anaesthetic, the surgeon removes the damaged ball of the hip joint and removes the cartilage from the socket. Both the ball and socket are replaced with prosthetic (artificial) parts which allow the joint to move smoothly without pain. These are held in place with or without bone cement. Your surgeon will be able to recommend the best type of replacement joint for your condition.
Complications following hip replacement surgery are rare. However, they can include:
You’ll be in hospital for 1-4 nights and will be shown how to walk using crutches (which you may need to use for up to six weeks).
Swelling: It’s normal for the whole leg to swell after a hip replacement, and to be at its most swollen around a week after surgery. Slight swelling can persist for as long as 6months after surgery but this is not really noticeable after the first 1-2months.
Bruising: It’s also normal to have bruising in the buttock and occasionally at the back of your knee.
Rehabilitation/exercises: You’ll be helped to walk with the physiotherapists once returned from theatre and we are satisfied that its safe to do so. You will also be given hip exercises to stop the hip becoming too stiff, and to enable you to put on shoes and socks. After surgery, you will be given a rehabilitation programme of gentle exercises to build up your strength and range of movement and in most cases you should be able to return to light everyday activities within three to six weeks. Two walks a day of increasing distance are essential. Use of an exercise bike from two weeks onwards is encouraged.
Depending on the kind of work you do, you may need up to six weeks off work. However, you will be advised about this as everyone is different and your rate of recovery may be different from other people’s. We normally recommend that you don’t work at all for the first two weeks, gradually returning to normal after four to six weeks (if your job mainly involves sitting down). Commuting during rush hour is not recommended for at least six weeks after hip replacement surgery. Manual workers may need up to three months to return to normal.
The DVLA states that it’s the responsibility of the driver to ensure they are always in control of the vehicle. A good guide is if you are confident walking without crutches and can get into your car without help, which is usually around six weeks after surgery. Vehicle insurance companies also usually suggest a six-week period off driving, although you should always check with your car insurance company first.
It’s important to discuss any concerns you may have with your specialist and to have realistic expectations about what is possible with this procedure. In most cases, people who have total hip replacement surgery have dramatically reduced levels of pain and increased ability to carry out everyday tasks. However, you may be advised to avoid sports that put particular stress on the joint such as running, jumping and high impact sports. Sports that are less likely to cause problems include tennis, swimming, golf, cycling and other low impact activities.
Your hip replacement should continue to improve for up to a year after surgery, and sometimes longer for younger patients.
In most cases, you’ll be advised to take two walks each day, gradually increasing your distance as your strength and confidence returns. Most people can bear weight on their leg soon after the operation and should be able to walk confidently without crutches within six weeks.
You will also be advised to arrange to see a physiotherapist so that you can begin to follow a rehabilitation programme that will help you return to fitness as soon as possible.
Hip replacements may set off airport security detectors but in most cases, you won’t need to go into great detail about your surgery with the security staff; many people have had some type of surgery involving a metal device and a brief explanation should be enough.
Looking after your replacement hip will help protect and extend its life. You can do this by:
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