Hip Joint Replacement
The hip joint is found within the area below the waist and above the legs on either side of the body or simply the hip. The hip joint is comprised of a ball-and-socket. Bone and cartilage make up the socket, while the ball or femoral head is placed at the top of the thigh bone. Hip joint replacement surgery is the removal and replacement of a damaged ball-and-socket with an implant that replicates functions of the bone and socket. Even under normal circumstances the ball-and-socket can suffer damage caused by injury, disease or age-related deterioration. This damage can cause great difficulty in performing everyday basic functions. Only after trying various therapeutic options such as braces, orthopaedic therapy and support should one consider hip replacement surgery; in case nothing else works out.
Apart from injuries, the need for a hip replacement surgery is invariably found in people aged fifty and above. The leading cause of age-related hip trouble is Arthritis (a degenerative bone disease which sublimates the cushioning cartilage between bones; causing immense pain when bones rub against each other while moving). The three types of arthritis that can be effectively alleviated via hip replacement include Rheumatoid Arthritis (autoimmune diseases which causes joint inflammation), Traumatic Arthritis (caused directly through injury or trauma) and Osteoarthritis (as a result of older age).
Doctors deploy a host of front-line treatment options in order to control arthritis before recommending surgery. Walkers, canes, low stress exercise programmes and NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like ibuprofen are recommended before going in for the final option; hip joint replacement. There are other scenarios that can be resolved through hip replacement as well. In case a tumour has grown within the hip joint, fractures to the thighbone or hip joint and a condition known as avascular necrosis; these can be mitigated via hip replacement.
The new artificial hip is constructed using four components; a metal socket, a liner along which the ball can move ceaselessly, a metallic or ceramic ball, which replaces the femoral head and a stabilising rod to firmly keep the thigh still. When it comes to joint prosthesis there are a few options available. Uncemented prosthesis is most commonly used by doctors as it lets the bone grow naturally back into the prosthesis over the course of time, ideal for a younger demographic. A cemented prosthesis is joined to the hip with cement for quicker results, this is most suited for older adults and those with low activity levels. In terms of results both prostheses are equally successful. Muscle sparing hip replacement is another option, it “spares” the muscles as it doesn’t cut through them and spares the pain caused by cuts. Incisions are made to the front of the upper thigh or back of the hip, this process affords quick recovery.
Unless there is an imperative and immediate need for hip replacement (fractures); hip replacement surgeries are scheduled many weeks in advance in order to afford the patient enough time to get into the best physical shape possible. Losing weight, discontinuing ongoing medication, preparing your living space to become conducive to post surgery needs, these considerations must be made and time will be needed for them. Before the day of the surgery food intake will be stopped. An IV is administered for passing medical and nutritional fluids during surgery. On the table, an anaesthetic will be given for a pain free operation or a local anaesthetic in case of heart or lung problems. The procedure can last anywhere between one hour to three hours.
The patient will be placed under medical observation in a recovery room where vitals will be monitored and medicine will be administered for pain. One has to remain in the hospital for a few days after surgery. On the succeeding day after surgery, a physical therapist will assist the patient in completing basic tasks such as getting up and walking a few steps.
Even after going home, walking and other physical therapy needs to be continued for rehabilitation and recovery. Orthopaedic and rehabilitation centres are another option, if they are at a negotiable distance from home. A medical assistant can be kept on at home for the first few weeks after surgery in order to better adjust to a temporary new lifestyle. The total recovery time can vary anywhere between three to six months.
Hip replacement surgeries are highly safe equally successful and rank amongst some of the most highly successful surgeries of all time.
Most of the risk during recovery revolves around the dislocation of the new hip joint. This can happen if sufficient time is not allowed for recovery, a hasty return to physical activity, disregard for recovery instructions provided by the doctor. Not to worry, developments in the field of hip replacement have reduced the risk of hip dislocation to negligible. Apart from dislocation, there is also a risk of infection and blood clotting, but these can be dealt with easily through other procedures. Hip joints are sturdy and long-lasting implants. People might need to go in for a second replacement surgery in case the first replaced hip wears out due to obesity or highly strenuous activity. Right from surgery to full recovery; great care and attention to detail are required over a long span of time in order to ensure a return to a normal life post hip replacement surgery.