In cases of severe hip injury or illness, joint replacement may be the best approach to relieving symptoms and facilitating a return to optimal mobility. Damage type and severity, as well as patient response to less invasive treatment efforts, will impact the replacement approach recommended. Before a hip replacement procedure, Dr. Greene will complete an in-depth examination for formal diagnosis, and outline a comprehensive plan for ongoing recovery success.
Hip Damage and Associated Symptoms
Hip damage can result from a range of injury and illness types; however, arthritis is the most prevalent cause of chronic hip pain and disability. While traumatic damage can impact anyone, the risks for osteoarthritis are often associated with aging, as well as activity-related wear-and-tear. Likewise, many cases of hip damage are progressive in nature, growing increasingly more severe over the course of time.
As the hip is a centrally located, weight-bearing joint, frequently reported symptoms include, but are not limited to:
- Difficulty walking, standing, and climbing stairs
- Discomfort while resting (either seated or lying down)
- Joint stiffness or swelling
- Require assistance of cane or other mobility support
If the above symptoms are not responsive to non-invasive methods, such as anti-inflammatory medications or physical therapy, hip replacement may be the best option for eliminating discomfort and restoring function.
Diagnosis and Determining Treatment
To determine the full extent of hip damage, an in-depth medical history, including both general health and specific injury symptoms, will be documented. The degree to which hip disability inhibits the completion of daily activities will be a significant consideration in determining a treatment approach.
In addition to a battery of physical tests (alignment, mobility, and strength), an x-ray, MRI, and/or blood tests will be performed to identify any extraneous damage factors and overarching bone condition. These factors will influence the surgery type recommended, as well as the post-op rehabilitation measures prescribed.
Hip Replacement Surgery
Due to procedural complexity, hip replacement operations are typically performed under general anesthesia and on an in-patient basis. During the surgery, which will likely last 2-4 hours, Dr. Greene will remove the damaged cartilage and bone, applying prosthetic elements to restore natural alignment and function. Whether bone cement is used to secure the prosthesis will be determined on a case-by-case basis.
Whenever possible, minimally invasive techniques will be used to complete the hip replacement, reducing both incision size and the amount of required cutting (as compared to traditional open surgery). Candidates for this approach tend to be younger or more active; however, the surgical team will assess a variety of criteria when determining if a minimally invasive hip replacement should be completed.
Recovery and Long-Term Hip Health
Whether a traditional or minimally invasive hip replacement is completed, special precautions and recovery efforts will be required for successful post-op rehabilitation. Immediately following surgery, rest and avoidance of hip strain will be emphasized. In most cases, basic activities will not be resumed until 3-6 weeks after surgery, and will be undertaken on a gradual basis.
In order to rebuild mobility and strength, a walking program will be prescribed in conjunction with more formal physical therapy efforts. Special supports will be used to assist with walking, as well as for standing from a seated position or using stairs. Other efforts will include the use of analgesics and anti-inflammatory medications, as well as nutrition management.
Hip replacement surgery has a low complication rate; however, serious issues can occur. Any unusual pain, skin discoloration, or other symptoms for concern should be reported to the surgical team immediately.