Hip Joint Overview
Your hip joint is a ball and socket joint consisting of three bones: the ilium, ischium, and pubis.
As one of the most flexible joints in your body, your hip joint gives you your ability to walk, run, jump, and bend backward and forward. The hip joint bears the weight of your body and supports your hip and leg muscles.
Damage to the Hip Joint
The hip joint is most commonly damaged by wear-and-tear (osteoarthritis). Other causes include an over-active immune system (rheumatoid arthritis); inadequate blood supply to the ball portion of the hip joint, causing the bone to die (osteonecrosis); or injury.
When damaged, you may experience the following:
- Persistent pain interfering with daily activity, even while taking pain medication.
- Trouble walking, even with an assistive device.
- Difficulty maneuvering stairs.
- Problems when rising from a seated position.
- Impairment of sleep.
Surgical Replacement of a Damaged Hip Joint
Hip replacement surgery is usually performed only in cases when all other treatments have failed to provide acceptable pain relief.
The first step in determining whether a hip replacement is necessary is meeting with an orthopedic surgeon, at which time the following will be completed:
- A physical to ensure your health is acceptable for undergoing the procedure.
- Blood tests.
- X-ray and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging).
- An evaluation of the strength of the muscles surrounding the joint.
- An evaluation of your range of motion.
- A medical history and list of medications you are currently taking.
Planning in Advance for Hip Replacement Surgery
Organizing ahead of time will make your homecoming easier. Consider the following:
- Asking for assistance from friends or family to assure you have meals during your recovery period.
- Arranging your home where you can easily access items without bending or reaching.
- Making sure that the seat of your toilet is high enough to sit comfortably; if it is not, considering a raised one.
- Keeping climbing of stairs to a minimum by making your living area primarily on one level.
- Sitting in a straight firm chair, not a recliner.
- Removing throw rugs and reducing clutter to a minimum.
What Happens During the Surgery
During the procedure, the lower half of your body is numbed with either a general anesthetic or spinal block that will relax your muscles and induce a temporary deep sleep. After making an incision alongside your hip, your surgeon will expose the hip joint to remove the diseased/damaged bone and cartilage, replacing it with an artificial joint (prosthesis) usually made of metal, ceramics and/or plastic.
When the surgery is completed, you will spend a few hours in a recovery room, where you will be monitored by medical staff.
Depending upon the type of hip replacement surgery you have, you can expect to stay in the hospital for three – six days, with exercise and activity supervised by a physical therapist beginning right away.
During this time, you will be given instructions on home recovery and follow-up care to help with a speedy recovery.
Following Hip Replacement Surgery Discharge
After your surgery, carefully follow the instructions prescribed by your physical therapist concerning going about your daily activities using your involved leg and assistive devices such as canes, walkers, or crutches.
Avoid the following:
- Twisting, pivoting, or crossing the leg.
- Turning the leg inward.
- Bending at the hip or waist at more than a 90-degree angle.
If you are to regain the optimum use of your joint and the muscles involved, daily exercise and activity are a necessity. When performed consistently, your strengthening and mobility workouts will be a major component in helping you achieve a safe and speedy recovery.
Expectations Following Hip Replacement Surgery
Your new artificial joint will help in reducing your pain and improving function such as walking and other such movements. In time, golfing, hiking, and swimming may be in your comfort zone. Don’t, however, expect a return to all the activities you could do before the pain originated. The high-impact motion involved in physical pursuitsthat put stress on your joints and muscles (e.g. running and contact sports, etc.) could produce adverse effects, causing a relapse.