After Surgery

Roughly 330,000 hip replacements were performed in 2010 in the U.S. according to a National Hospital Discharge Survey, making it a fairly common procedure. If you’ve ever wondered what life is like following hip replacement surgery, here’s what you or your loved one can expect.

To perform a hip replacement, your surgeon makes an incision into your hip, either from the front or the side, to remove any unhealthy bone or cartilage. Following this, he or she will insert a prosthetic socket into your pelvic bone, and attach a prosthetic ball to the top of your femur.

The hip is now complete as a prosthetic ball and socket joint and should be able to fully recreate the movements of a natural, healthy hip.

People with hip replacements do have to keep special considerations in mind. First, they are at a higher risk for developing blood clots in their legs and will have to adopt preventative measures into their lives.

For example, following a hip replacement, your doctor will want you to be up and walking around as early as possible afterward. Granted, you can’t expect to be jumping and dancing around the same day, but mobilization via crutches or with the aid of a walker or cane will be very important. That’s a lot to ask of someone who just underwent surgery, but the movement is necessary to ensure good blood circulation throughout your entire body.

Another measure your doctor may recommend is the use of compression socks. These are tight-fitting socks that when worn correctly apply pressure to your legs, and in turn, the veins in your legs. The idea is to prevent blood from simply pooling there, which could lead to the formation of a clot.

Your doctor might also prescribe a medication to thin your blood following surgery. This is also a good way to prevent clots from forming, particularly in the days right after your replacement, when you may not be able to walk around as much as you would like. In the weeks and months after, if you are able to return to an active or semi-active lifestyle, your doctor may take you off the blood-thinning medication.

You can also expect some level of physical therapy to play a role in your post-surgery care. This will likely involve exercises to regain strength in your muscles and mobility in your joint.

Image via IntangibleArts on Flickr.