Total Hip Replacement

What is a total hip replacement?

Total hip replacement surgery, also known as total hip arthroplasty, is a procedure which is used to replace hip joints which have become worn out or damaged. This form of surgery is typically a treatment for arthritis pain, or is undergone after a hip fracture. It involves the removal of damaged parts of the hip joint, and the securing of artificial replacements usually made from hard plastic, metal and ceramics.

The forms of arthritis which affect the hip joint and could necessitate a total hip replacement include; rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

Am I a good candidate for a total hip replacement?

The decision to proceed with total hip replacement is usually made when other treatment options - such as physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, and glucosamine - have proven ineffective in providing relief, and pain is interfering with everyday life.

You might be considered a good candidate for hip replacement if you have pain which; gets worse when you walk, even with a walking aid; causes regular pain and discomfort despite medication being taken; affects the ability to climb or descend stairs; is interfering with sleep; makes it hard to stand up from a seated position; or is making it hard to get dressed.

How does total hip replacement surgery work?

Ahead of the procedure, you would typically attend a consultation with an orthopaedic surgeon, during which the surgeon may; look at your medical history; note any medications which you are taking currently; examine the hip joint, assessing the strength of the muscles which surround it, and testing the joint's range of motion; carry out blood tests; and conduct imaging tests such as an x-ray. You will have the chance to ask the surgeon any questions you may have pertaining to the procedure. You may also be given instructions on which medications you can or can't take in the lead up to the procedure. It is advisable to stop smoking for at least one months before the procedure. Dental work should not be carried out within two weeks of surgery.

You will typically be given a regional or general anaesthetic ahead of the procedure. Surgery usually takes several hours and begins with the surgeon making an incision at the front or side of the hip, allowing the removal of worn or damaged cartilage and bone. The prosthetic socket can then be implanted, and the round ball at the top of the femur is also replaced.

Recovery from total hip replacement

You will typically be placed in a recovery area while the anaesthesia subsides, allowing medical staff to monitor your pulse, pain level, alertness and blood pressure. They will give you medication if required. While some people return home on the same day as a total his replacement, others will stay in the hospital for one to two nights.

You will need a partner, relative or friend to help you in the days following the procedure, preparing meals and assisting with tasks which would require you to reach up or bend down. It can take from six months to a year to regain full strength following a total hip replacement.

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