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When a Hip Replacement is needed
A hip replacement is a common type of surgery. A damaged hip joint is replaced with an artificial one. This is known as a prosthesis.
Adults of any age can be considered for a hip replacement. Most are carried out on people between the ages of 60 and 80.
Artificial hip joints are designed to last for at least 20 years. Most people experience a significant reduction in pain. They get some improvement in their range of movement.
Hip replacement surgery is usually needed when the hip joint is worn or damaged. Your mobility is reduced and you experience pain even while resting.
The most common reason for hip replacement surgery is osteoarthritis.
Other conditions that can cause hip joint damage include:
- rheumatoid arthritis
- a hip fracture
- septic arthritis
- ankylosing spondylitis
- disorders that cause unusual bone growth (bone dysplasias)
Who is Offered Hip Replacement Surgery
A hip replacement is major surgery. Your GP will usually recommend it if other treatments haven’t helped to reduce pain or improve mobility.
You may be offered hip replacement surgery if:
- you have severe pain, swelling and stiffness in your hip joint and your mobility is reduced
- your hip pain is so severe that it interferes with your quality of life and sleep
- everyday tasks, such as shopping or getting out of the bath, are difficult or impossible
- you’re feeling depressed because of the pain and lack of mobility
- you can’t work or have a normal social life
You’ll also need to be well enough to cope with a major operation and the rehabilitation.
How Hip Replacement Surgery is Performed
A hip replacement can be carried out under a general anaesthetic or an epidural.
A general anaesthetic is where you’re asleep during the procedure. An epidural is where the lower body is numbed.
The surgeon makes an incision into the hip and removes the damaged hip joint. They replace it with an artificial joint made of a metal alloy or, in some cases, ceramic.
The surgery usually takes around 60-90 minutes to complete.
Preparing for hip replacement surgery
Before you go into hospital, find out as much as you can about what’s involved in your operation.
Stay as active as you can. Strengthening the muscles around your hip will aid your recovery. Continue to take gentle exercise in the weeks and months before your operation. Walking and swimming are good options.
You may be referred to a physiotherapist, who will give you helpful exercises.
Recovering from hip replacement surgery
The rehabilitation process after surgery can be a demanding time.
For the first few days or weeks after the operation you’ll need a walking aid, such as crutches, to help support you. Most of our patients return home after 12 days without any walking aid.
You may also be enrolled on an exercise programme. It’s designed to help you regain and improve the use of your new hip joint.
Most people are able to resume normal activities within 2 to 3 months. It can take up to a year before you experience the full benefits of your new hip.
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