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Reviewed by

Team Resolve

February 3, 2022

All about Hip Joint Replacement

The hip joint consists of two essential components- a cup-shaped cavity (socket) in the pelvis and a long bone called femur whose rounded end will fit into the cup of the pelvis (ball). Along with helping in movement and giving basic structure to our legs, this ball and socket joint also helps in stabilizing the posture and distributes the body weight evenly on the two feet. With monumental changes in the daily nutrition and lifestyle in the past few decades, the incidence of people requiring hip replacement surgeries is on a rise. Replacing a naturally crafted joint with a man-made replacement is a big decision, so this article will focus on imparting education about the risk factors of hip injuries, types of surgeries available and how to make an informed choice, post-surgical therapy and tips on how to resettle back into life post-surgery.

Table of Contents

Who needs joint replacement?

Hip joint if damaged, worn out or fractured can require a replacement surgery. It is usually seen in individuals:

  • Aged 50-70 years
  • Suffering from osteoarthritis
  • Have history of rheumatoid arthritis
  • Have any other bone related disease
  • Have any cancer in the bone

When to approach a doctor?

Hip joint is commonly affected in various diseases. It is important to identify which situations should raise alarm and have to be followed up by a doctor, to prevent loss of function of the joint. These warning signs can include:

  • Reduced mobility of the joint 
  • Associated with swelling, stiffness or pain in the joint
  • The symptoms impact the daily activities and the overall quality of life of the individual
  • The symptoms affect the social, mental and psychological health status of the individual
  • Basic medicinal treatment fails to provide relief
  • Sleep cycle is affected due to severe pain in the joint

What can be done at home?

Taking care of the artificial joint post-surgery is of utmost importance to ensure good results. Small steps taken at home can make a huge difference in the outcome for the individual.

Clot Prevention

  • Following hip replacement surgeries, risk of developing clots in the bloodstream (thrombosis) which may lodge at various organs to cause severe complications increase. Following steps can help reduce this risk:
    1. Early Ambulation (movement): Encouraging the patient to move, use the limbs and to start falling back in the daily routine helps prevent the risk of developing blood clots.
    2. Medications: Various blood thinners, antiplatelet drugs and anticoagulants are available which keep excessive clotting of the blood in check.
    3. Pressure Technique: Applying pressure on the limb, by the means of tight stockings can help prevent the pooling of blood in the limbs, reducing the risk of developing blood clots and related complications.

Physical Therapy

  • Mobility Exercises: Starting with the simple and basic exercises, and going towards the advanced workouts can help the patient adapt to the new limb and figure out what works best for him.
    1. Starting with getting in and out of bed, sitting on a chair for a few minutes and then getting up can help the individual restore normal functions.
    2. Daily walks
    3. Climbing a few steps daily
    4. Working both the affected and the unaffected limb helps prevent loss of function
  • Stretching Exercises: Stretching both the affected and the unaffected joint helps in ensuring balance between the limbs. Further it helps strengthen the muscles surrounding the joint and relieves stiffness.
  • Strength Building: Strength building exercises help build muscle strength and regain the lost power. 

Mental Health

  • Joint replacement surgery is a major event in an individual’s life. Apart from the patient, it also affects the caretakers. To facilitate complete recovery, it is important to educate the patient (and the caretakers) about the importance of seeking counselling.
    1. The patient must be counselled about the various orthoses, prosthesis, crutches available and about accepting their use in daily life.
    2. Alleviating stress by meditation, counselling, therapies or medicinal treatment helps prevent further worsening of the condition.
    3. Educate oneself from valid resources and do not believe in hear-say stories.
    4. Individuals as well as the family should be counselled to mitigate the concerns and fears. It is only natural to feel anxious about the outcome of such a surgery but keeping a positive outlook not only helps recover but also cope with the changes ahead.
    5. Proper psychiatric or psychological help should be taken if the individual feels anxious, there is loss of interest in activities previously found pleasurable, loss of appetite, change in sleeping patterns etc.
    6. Attempts should be made to keep oneself busy by developing some hobbies to keep the mid free from anxiety.
    7. Join a support group with other fellow patients. Not only does this help in coming to terms with the artificial limb, but also helps in establishing trust and hope for a better future.

Lifestyle Modifications

  • During early days of recovery, it is important to ensure that the new joint gets time to heal. To facilitate healing and prevent injuries, minor re-arrangements around the house can be done, just to ensure that the individual does not have to bend to reach everyday items.
  • Going for a walk everyday freshens up the individual and helps regain muscle strength which might have been diminished due to the underlying disease. Care must be taken to not over-exert oneself.
  • Jogging, swimming, running and other sports can be encouraged to fall back in daily routine.
  • Proper follow-ups and medication plan is to be followed as per the recommendation of the surgeon.

Treatment Options

Hip replacement surgery, also called ‘arthroplasty’ can be of two broad types, depending upon the parts replaced:

  • Total Hip Arthroplasty: Both the ball and the socket are replaced with implants.
  • Partial Hip Arthroplasty: Either one of the ball or the socket is replaced using implants while the other structure remains intact.

Complications of Hip Replacement Surgeries

  • Deep Vein Thrombosis: Formation of blood clots in the veins of the leg can cause pain and difficulty in mobilization for the patient. It can be effectively prevented by early ambulation.
  • Infections: In such an invasive surgery, the risk of developing infections is high. It can be prevented with proper precautions.
  • Length difference: Arthroplasty can lead to a difference in length of both the limbs, leading to a permanent defect in the gait for the patient.
  • Nerve Damage
    • Continued stiffness and pain
  • Disclaimer

    This article is meant to guide and educate the patients. All medical treatment is to be undertaken under the guidance of expert medical service providers only.

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