The hip joint makes it possible for you to run, walk, sit, and perform many other lower body movements with ease. The hip is where the thigh bone (femoral head) meets the pelvis (acetabulum). Both bones are covered in cartilage to provide cushion and allow easy motion. A wide range of hip conditions can cause discomfort in this area. Our board certified orthopaedic surgeons utilize some of the most effective conservative treatments available; however, sometimes a surgical procedure may be needed to address the issue. Our minimally invasive hip replacement techniques are designed to reduce or eliminate pain and to restore function as safely and as quickly as possible.
If you have questions about hip replacement surgery, we can help. Contact our office today for more information or to schedule a consultation.
Total Hip Replacement
Referred to as hip arthroplasty, a total hip replacement is a procedure in which the ball of the femur and the socket of the pelvis are replaced with artificial parts, or prostheses. These parts are typically made of titanium, other metals, polyethylene plastic, and/or ceramic.
Each bone must be prepared to ensure proper fit of prostheses. To do so, one of our experienced orthopaedic surgeons will remove the ball portion from the femur and enlarge the natural canal located in the bone. This is where the stem will be inserted and secured. Similarly, the existing pelvic socket will be prepared to make room for the artificial one. When each part has been replaced, the prosthetic stem and ball will be inserted into the prosthetic socket. They are stabilized by the surrounding tissues in an effort to restore improved function and eliminate pain.
Your Hip Evaluation
When you arrive for your initial consultation, we will take a detailed medical history. This information is essential for our orthopaedists to determine if surgery is the best course of action based on your level of pain, limitations in activity, progression of the condition, and other factors. A physical examination will follow and the surgeon may also have you sit, walk, stand, bend, or move in other ways as part of the evaluation.
If you have X-rays of your hip, you should bring them with you to the consultation. We may also recommend that you complete additional imaging tests. These radiographic photos help our orthopaedic surgeons plan your operation. If you undergo surgery, X-rays will also be taken post-operatively to evaluate your hip replacement.
At the Orthopaedic Institute of Central Jersey, we try to begin with a conservative approach. Our orthopaedists will detail the non-surgical options at your initial consultation, suggesting the course of action they believe will be most beneficial. However, if there is severe joint damage or if all other forms of treatment have been ineffective, hip replacement surgery may be recommended.
Part of preparing for surgery is meeting with your primary care physician and/or an internist for a comprehensive medical examination. If you are overweight, your doctor may request that you lose some weight prior to the procedure, and if you smoke, you will need to stop to reduce your risk of complications. We will provide a list of medications that may need to be stopped about two weeks prior to your surgery.
The Day of Surgery
It’s important that you avoid eating or drinking after midnight the day of your procedure. About 30 minutes before your operation, you will be brought into the OR (operating room). An IV (intravenous) line will be started, which will allow the medical professionals to administer fluids and medications during surgery. You will also meet with the anesthesiologist before the operation begins to go over the type of anesthetic that will be used.
After surgery you will be moved to the Post-Anesthesia Recovery Room, where you will wake up and be closely monitored by experienced nurses. If you feel pain or discomfort, medication will be provided. You will eventually be moved to another room where you will likely remain for the rest of your hospital stay, which typically lasts two to three days.
There will be a surgical dressing or bandage placed over the surgical site, and there may be a drain coming from this area and leading to a drainage apparatus. This system is designed to remove excess blood that could accumulate in this region. The drain and the bandage will be managed by the surgical team, which includes the doctor and physician assistant.
Ankle pumping exercises, which will be demonstrated for you, should be performed every hour to reduce the risk of blood clots, and a physical therapy team will help mobilize you.
When you are ready to leave the hospital you will receive instructions for how to care for your hip at home. It’s important that you follow all directions and contact us if you experience any issues. The first step upon arriving home is to make an appointment to see your orthopaedist. Observe any changes on or near your incision. If you notice any of the following, please contact your surgeon promptly:
- Foul odor
- Fever of 101 degrees (38 degrees C) or higher for at least two days
- Increased swelling, tenderness, redness, and/or pain
You may experience some frustration in the beginning of the recovery process, and that’s completely normal. Sleeping is often difficult at first. Take the time you need to get comfortable and adjust to your situation.
Everyone recovers at a different speed, and your rate of healing, as well as the demands of your job, will determine when you can return to normal activity. Our experienced orthopaedic surgeons will monitor your progress and let you know when you’re ready to take the next step. Discuss driving with your therapist and doctor. You may wish to practice in a safe area first, to make sure you’re comfortable, before driving regularly.
You may engage in sexual intercourse when you feel comfortable.
Returning to health includes staying active, keeping a healthy weight, and maintaining muscle tone. Most patients can return to all low-impact exercises. Ask your surgeon about high-impact exercises. Your new hip should be very durable, but it is still subject to normal wear and tear. If you have a question about a specific exercise or activity, please ask your surgeon before participating.
Medication and Pain Management
Your care, comfort, and safety are our highest priorities. While some discomfort is normal, we can provide prescription pain medicine to make your experience as pleasant as safely possible. If you anticipate needing a refill, please contact your surgeon or their nurse a few days before you run out of the pills. Additionally, if you notice an increase in pain, contact your orthopaedist right away.
Although each patient’s experience may vary, in general you will have a follow-up visit at two to three weeks, three to six months, and 12 months. Even if you are not experiencing any concerns or problems, our surgeons may also ask you to return every two years after your procedure for a quick consultation and to review the condition of your hip. Additionally, it is still common for surgeons to prescribe preventive antibiotics before dental work.
For more information about hip replacement surgery and the recovery process, contact our office today. Our friendly and knowledgeable medical team can answer your questions and help you schedule a consultation.