Hip replacement surgery is one of the most successful orthopaedic operations carried out in this area of medicine. Over 100,500 hip replacement procedures were carried in the UK in 20151.
The procedure was in fact invented in the UK, back in the 1960s by Sir John Charnley, during the intervening years the science has further developed and is now one of the most successful operations carried out.
This type of surgery is often required when the joint has become worn out due to arthritis, weakened or badly damaged in some way and the management of pain can't be controlled by non-surgical procedures.
If your surgery is successful, the function of your hip will improve, allowing you to move more freely without feeling pain, thus improving your quality of life.
Watch Katie's story, a patient who had a hip replacement surgery BMI Mount Alvernia Hospital, that allowed her to go back to work, take up horse riding, and more:
Are there any alternatives to surgery?
There are certain things you can do to relieve the pain but there is no non-surgical treatment. Simple painkillers such as paracetamol and anti-inflammatory painkillers such as ibuprofen can help control the pain. Supplements to your diet may also help relieve your symptoms. You should check with your doctor before you take supplements. Using a walking stick can make walking easier, as can a small shoe-raise. Regular moderate exercise can help to reduce stiffness. A steroid injection into the hip joint can sometimes reduce pain and stiffness.
A surgical alternative is having a hip resurfacing, which requires removing only the damaged bone parts and replacing them with metal.
How should I prepare for my surgery?
When you meet with your consultant surgeon they'll ensure that you have the opportunity to ask any questions you may have about your procedure, they'll discuss with you what'll happen before, during and after the procedure and any pain you might have. Take this time with them to ensure your mind is put at rest.
It is always recommended to stay active before the operation and exercise, so that you build your muscle strength which will aid in your recovery. A physiotherapist can advise you what the best exercises are to do ahead of your surgery.
What does hip replacement surgery involve?
A variety of anaesthetic techniques are possible: you can have a general anaesthesia or choose an epidural, which will numb your lower body. The operation usually takes between an hour and an hour and a half.
Your consultant surgeon will make a cut on the side of your hip and remove the damaged ball and socket. They will replace these with an artificial ball and socket made of metal, plastic, ceramic, or a combination of these materials (see figure 1).
An acrylic cement or special coating is used on the hip replacement to bond it directly to the bone.
What are the potential hip replacement complications?
Any surgical intervention has potential risks of complications, such as pain, excessive bleeding, and infection in the surgical wound, unsightly scarring, blood clotting, chest infection, difficulty passing urine, heart attack or stroke. All risks will
Specific complications of a hip replacement surgery are:
- Split in the femur
- Damage to nerves
- Damage to blood vessels
- Infection in the hip
- Bone forming in muscles around the hip replacement
- Loosening of the joint
- Hip dislocation
What is the hip replacement recovery time?
You should be able to go home after four to seven days and it's likely that you'll need to use crutches or walking sticks for a few weeks.
Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities following surgery as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, you should ask a member of the healthcare team or your GP for advice.
Most people make a good recovery, have less pain and can move about better. Recovery time depends on various factors such as your age, general health, strength of your muscles and the condition of your other joints.
An artificial hip never feels quite the same as a normal hip and it is important to look after it in the long term. A hip replacement can wear out with time.
How do I pay for my operation?
Costs are covered by most medical insurance policies, but please check with your insurer first. If you are paying for your own treatment the cost of the operation will be explained and confirmed in writing when you book the operation.
Ask the hospital for a quote beforehand, and ensure that this includes the surgeon’s fee, the anaesthetist’s fee and the hospital charge for your procedure.
1.National Joint Registry