Hip replacement is one of the most successful of all operations in diminishing pain and improving function. Most patients are very happy with their result following surgery.
Whether you are scheduled to have hip replacement surgery, or contemplating exploring this option with a qualified Orthopaedic Surgeon, here are some facts about the procedure and tips for recovery.
Why are hips replaced?
Hips are replaced most commonly for arthritis where the surface of the joint has worn down, although other conditions such as fracture, tumour, or conditions which have led to collapse of the bone (avascular necrosis or infection) may also be indications for the surgery.
How do hip replacements work?
The ball and socket which form the hip joint are replaced by a new socket (acetabular component) and a new ball placed upon a device put into the middle of the thigh bone – the femur (femoral component).
There are many different designs of hip replacement, many different bearing surfaces and different ways of putting the devices into the hip.
One of the oldest and yet most successful designs uses acrylic cement to hold the components into the bone. They are called cemented hip replacements, with the femoral component lasting up to 40 years. The acetabular component will usually last about 20 years.
Other hip replacement designs use specifically engineered surfaces often coated with a calcium and phosphate mixture to promote the bone to grow onto the components and into the tiny voids within their surface.
When assessing a patient for a hip replacement I consider many factors including the patient’s age, their bone quality and shape, their physical requirements, the condition of the hip leading to the required surgery and the cost. My goal is to achieve the very best result for my patients.
What if you don’t have health insurance?
For patients who are suffering extreme pain but are not insured, self-funding options are available, whereby the cost of the entire operation (including surgeon, anaesthetist, assistant and all hospital fees) is around $16,000.
Tips for recovery
Following surgery, the most important activity is to walk often and regularly – getting out of the chair at least every 30 minutes is very beneficial.
Whilst the hip replacement achieves pain relief it does not increase strength.
For those people who have particular sporting or athletic requirements, an exercise program is also very helpful. Simply riding an exercise bike regularly is a great place to start. Swimming is also good – both are inexpensive and really good exercise.