4 Questions to Ask When Preparing for Hip Replacement

If you are suffering from hip pain due to severe arthritis or dealing with the long-term effects of a hip injury, you may have thought about undergoing total hip replacement surgery. This procedure can have immense benefits for many people, but there are a few factors to consider before deciding if it is right for you.

Is Surgery Your Best Option?

Total hip replacement is major surgery and is typically only used when all other treatment options have been exhausted. Candidates recommended for hip replacement often have such intolerable pain that their ability to function in daily life is considerably inhibited. If your hip pain prohibits you from easily transitioning between sitting and standing, climbing stairs, walking, sitting in a car, or getting a good night’s sleep, it may be time for a hip replacement. The most important way of determining if you are ready is to speak with your doctor. He or she will likely start by proposing a variety of alternative treatment options to see whether these relieve your pain. Total hip replacement should be a last resort. Additionally, your doctor must assess your overall health status including age and bone density. This will help ensure that you are physically able to withstand surgery and recovery without complications.

What Happens During Surgery?

Before committing to a total hip replacement, you should have a thorough understanding of what will happen. The surgeon will remove the damaged ball and socket hip joint and replace it with an artificial joint. When selecting an orthopedic surgeon, you may want to look for one that practices minimally invasive surgical techniques. Minimally invasive surgeries are similar to traditional surgeries, but they use a smaller incision; thus, causing less damage to the surrounding tissue.

The surgeon also has the option of operating on the hip from either the front, back, or side. Procedures done from the front are known as anterior surgeries and are among the more advanced methods available. While the specific surgical approach needed varies depending on the patent, hip replacements that use a minimally invasive anterior method typically have some of the fastest rehabilitation times. It is essential to select a skilled orthopedic specialist and discuss what type of surgery will work for you.

What Are the Risks?

As with most surgeries, hip replacement carries some risk of infections, complications from anesthesia, and injury to surrounding nerves or tissues. Post-operative blood clots are another potential danger. Your doctor may prescribe blood thinners immediately after surgery to reduce the chances of one developing. Additional risks include bone fracture, joint dislocation, and unequal leg length. Complications after hip replacement are more common in those with multiple medical conditions and those who are overweight or obese. Although, it must be noted that serious problems are relatively rare, and the majority of individuals who undergo a total hip replacement will have a safe recuperation period and experience improved mobility with less pain.

What Is My Recovery Game Plan?

Just as you prepare for your surgery, you must also prepare for the aftermath. Prior to your operation, you and your doctor should establish a pathway for rehabilitation that includes regular outpatient care. Make arrangements with a physical therapist to assist you with movement and strength-building. You can schedule regular appointments at a physical therapy clinic or opt for in-home physical therapy. Moreover, follow your doctor’s instructions in caring for the incision, staying active, and taking medications. It is exceptionally critical to walk around frequently during recovery. Not only does this minimize your chance of developing blood clots, but it also encourages swift and proper healing.

While the decision to have a total hip replacement is not one that should be taken lightly, it does offer significant potential to benefit those most in need. If you experience unbearable hip pain that has not responded to previous treatment, consider talking to your doctor about a hip replacement.