If a person is experiencing excruciating joint pain around hip and despite proper treatment, if he is not able to carry out his daily activities, then hip replacement surgery can be a good option for him. Osteoarthritis causes severe damage to the hip joint and is one of the main reasons of pain around hip and restricted movement of the joint. Bone injury, rheumatoid arthritis and bone tumors are some of the main causes of broken hip joint. These days, not only the elderly but young adults also prefer undergoing a hip replacement surgery.
Thanks to the modern technology and researchers, improved artificial parts which work just like natural body parts are available for all. Modern artificial joints withstand more stress and strain and last longer. They help patients to get back on their feet again. Today's world is fast and full of activities. Everyone has to be fit and active. Individuals with musculoskeletal disabilities can regain their self-confidence and can improve the quality of life with the help of joint replacement surgeries. People opt for a hip replacement surgery, as it helps get rid of the pain and increases mobility.
Factors that Determine Hip Replacement Recovery Time
The recovery time depends on various factors like age, weight, overall health, willpower of the patient and on the type of the surgery and the type of the synthetic joint used. A total hip replacement involves removal of the diseased cartilage and bone (the ball and the socket or acetabulum, the cup-shaped bone of the pelvis) of the hip joint. The diseased parts (both the thigh bone and the socket) are replaced with artificial implants. The newly inserted parts are fixed with a specially made acrylic cement called methylmethacrylate. Partial hip replacement surgery (also known as hemiarthroplasty) usually involves replacement of the ball at the femoral neck (where the end of the femur connects the legs to the pelvis) with a metal prosthesis. After the hip replacement surgery, patients are required to stay in the hospital for 3-5 days. Full recovery may take about 3-6 months, depending upon the type of surgery that you are about to undergo.
- Health: The recovery time for a hip replacement surgery may vary from person to person, depending upon the person's overall health and mental strength. Those who have chronic diseases like diabetes may take longer time to recover.
- Right Time: If the decision of undergoing the surgery is taken before severe deterioration of the joint, then the patient can expect fast recovery. Ignoring or neglecting hip pain symptoms over a few months can result in longer recovery time.
- Uncemented Prosthesis: An uncemented prosthesis leads to longer recovery periods, as the natural bone takes time to grow and attach to the prosthesis. The patient is expected to limit his activities up to three months. After the surgery, thigh pain may be experienced for some months, as the bone grows into the prosthesis. Uncemented replacements are usually used for young and active patients. They were introduced after 1970.
- Cemented Prosthesis: This is used for older and less active people who usually have weak bones. Use of cemented prosthesis promotes faster recovery as compared to the uncemented one. Since 1960s, cemented replacements are in use.
- Patient's Response: How the patient responds to doctor's instructions, how he cooperates during hip pain exercises demonstrated by the physical therapist, determine the recovery time after hip replacement. How fast the patient learns pain management techniques decides the success of his rehabilitation.
Hip Replacement Recovery Process
- First Day: On the very first day, on which the surgery is performed, the patient may be asked to sit in a chair or on the side of the bed. Ankle pumps, leg lifts and heel slide can be tried under the guidance of the surgeon and the physiotherapist. Pain killers are provided after the surgery.
- In Hospital: Physiotherapist will guide the patient for walking, strengthening and mobility, while the occupational therapist will guide the patient during hospitalization for dressing, washing and other daily activities. The weight of the patient, type and extent of the surgery and the physical and mental strength of the patient significantly influence the progress.
- Rehabilitation Center: After 3-5 days, patient is discharged from the hospital. Going to toilet or kitchen can be tried slowly, within this period. If this is not possible, then there are rehabilitation centers, where 24 hour support is provided to the patients. This way, the patient can recover fast. Services of therapists are also available in the rehabilitation centers.
- Home: Finally, when the patient returns home, visiting nurses and therapists will be there to help. With the help of a 'walker', the patient can walk. Stronger patients may use crutches. Usually, within 2-4 weeks, the patient is able to walk with a cane and after 4-6 weeks, he can walk without any assistance.
- Stairs: The therapists train the patients to take stairs (it may take about a week), and patients can then step on stairs with a cane or walker; and after 4-6 weeks, without any help.
- Driving: After 4-6 weeks, patients can try driving, depending upon the type of vehicle. It should be kept in mind that none of these activities should give rise to more complications. So, try only if you can.
- Back to Work: The patient can return to work within 4-10 weeks depending on work obligations and type of work, under the guidance of the surgeon and therapists.
Statistics show that hip replacement surgery rarely gives rise to health complications like blood clot in the leg, infection, etc. These surgeries have a very high overall success rate. New procedures cause less bleeding and trauma, as they involve minimum invasion. So, they promote quick recovery. It can be safely concluded, that the average hip replacement recovery time is about 3 months, but it can be around 6-12 months for some patients, depending upon various factors. Usually, when a patient returns to work after a hip replacement surgery, no one can make it out until he tells that he has recently undergone a major surgery.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.